Las Vegas - Google has cleared a major road block in its quest to introduce self-driving cars to the roads of the world.
The Nevada Motor Vehicles Department has given one of the company's prototypes the first-ever license to drive itself, after test runs down the bustling Las Vegas Strip and other streets showed the vehicle to be as safe - or safer - than human drivers.
The modified Toyota Prius, steered by sophisticated software using sensors, radar and cameras, was issued a special red licence plate with an infinity symbol and the words Autonomous Car to differentiate it from regular vehicles.
"When there comes a time that vehicle manufacturers market autonomous vehicles to the public, that infinity symbol will appear on a green license plate," Department Director Bruce Breslow said.
Nevada became the first state in the country to develop licensing criteria for self-driving cars when it unveiled the new regulations in March.
Until now Google's test fleet of self-driving cars always carried a human driver ready to intervene in emergencies, but its new status in Nevada will allow the company to start testing cars with no humans aboard.//DPA