Bryant Walker Smith (h/t Ryan Calo) of Stanford Law School’s Center on Internet and Society notes in a blog post that the state of Nevada has issued draft regulations for autonomous driving – automated, human-driverless, cars on Nevada roads. The final regulations could be out by March 2012 (and the post has links to the draft regulations, if you want to see them – they are quite interesting in their way and I’ll try to blog about the content later).
In June, CIS reported Nevada’s enactment of AB 511, which directs the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to “adopt regulations authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within the State of Nevada.” Pursuant to this mandate, the DMV has now issued draft regulations.
As I’ve pointed out several times, pundits writing these days about the spread of robotic, drone, and autonomous technologies on the battlefield, sparking an “arms race” that the United States will come to rue for having begun, often do not understand the extent to which all these technologies are coming in ordinary civilian spheres, in many ways. No one seems particularly upset at Google driving thousands of hours of driverless cars around San Francisco, but that technology got kick-started through a US military DARPA project (just as the internet did). Robotic and automation technologies are deeply established in manufacturing and industrial processes, and they are gradually moving into the control and operation of physical infrastructure and transportation, both surface and air. Whatever the military implications might be for the uses of these technologies, their evolution and deployment are already taking place in ordinary life, and will continue – military applications will rapidly turn out to be a subset of the general applications, just as military aircraft are an important, but still subsidiary, subset of aviation.