About a year ago, Bruce Breslow, the newly appointed director of Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles, was invited to Mountain View to test one of Google's driverless cars.
"I sat in the back seat first, looking at the laptop that shows what the vehicle is seeing," he said. "My apprehension disappeared after about five seconds. Once I felt confident that the car could see better than I could, they allowed me to get behind the wheel."
Now Nevada has become the first state to allow driverless cars to apply for their own drivers' licenses. The rules, which go into effect March 1, will make it possible for companies such as Google (whose lobbyist arranged Breslow's trip) and Mercedes-Benz and maybe even General Motors to test their robot cars on Nevada's 26,000 miles of road.