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Nevada gives green light to self-driving cars

In the name of economic development and roadway safety, the state establishes requirements for legally operating autonomous vehicles.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval steps out of a Google self-driving car in July 2011. Nevada DMV

Nevada wants to befriend robotic cars.

The state's legislature on Wednesday approved regulations for self-driving vehicles, the first state in the country to do so.

"These regulations establish requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada's public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future," Bruce Breslow, director of Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles, said in a statement.

Nevada's DMV worked with Google, automakers, insurance companies, and law enforcement on the regulations. The department said that other states already have bills to allow self-driving cars and are likely to follow Nevada's lead.

The state put in place the regulations in the name of improving roadway safety and economic development. Governor Brian Sandoval test-drove one of Google's self-driving cars last July and reportedly was impressed.

Self-driving transportation is a topic that few people outside of academia talked about a few years ago. Advances in the technology, aided by Google's demonstration cars, have made the possibilities known to a broader audience.

In Nevada, autonomous test vehicles will have a red license plate. When the technology is ready for general public use, the state will create a green license plate for autonomous cars.