Google is quietly lobbying Nevada to pass a bill to allow its semi-secret self-driving cars on the road. The bill would include an exception to the state ban on texting while driving, which implies that Google's technology has advanced enough to allow users of its vehicles to take their eyes off the road for extended periods.
Absent comment from anyone in Nevada's state government, it's hard to know whether or not this effort has a chance — or why Google chose Nevada as a testbed for this technology, but there are a number of things about Nevada that could have made it attractive to Google:
Nevada is a small state (2.6 million people) with an accessible and nimble government. The newly-elected governor, Brian Sandoval, has a habit of making himself accessible to CEOs and even aggressively recruiting them. "I literally made call lists and would run through them, calling [CEOs]," he said at a dinner with reporters last night.
Nevada is also looking to diversify its economy away from gaming and mining, and its governor has explicitly made clean technology a significant part of this push. Reno is home to a half dozen geothermal energy companies, including the largest in the world (that deals solely with geothermal power), Ormat Technologies.
And while we're speculating, it's worth noting that one consequence of this technology will surely be an explosion in the popularity of ghost riding the whip.
Google Lobbies Nevada To Allow Self-Driving Cars, The New York Times.