In a report released by the Wall Street Journal on Monday morning, it was announced that Google has purchased around 1,210 acres of land near Reno, NV. The land, which costs the company $29.1 million, will be used to house a data center and most likely a test track for the company’s future autonomous car, also known as self-driving, experiments.
The land was chosen because the state of Nevada has some of the greatest test terrains in the U.S., and was much cheaper than comparable sites in California. Google will have some famous neighbors near the new site as well. Tesla’s Gigafactory, which is one of the company’s biggest projects that aims to help the world transition to more sustainable energy, is just down the road in Sparks, Nevada (convenient place for an energy project, right?).
Autonomous Cars in Nevada
Currently, the Silver State has some rather strict laws regarding autonomous driving vehicles in both the consumer market and testing phases. With the recent purchases by two of the largest – and most innovative – tech companies in the world, Nevada is looking to change some of the testing regulations to make the endeavor much easier.
According to the Nevada DMV’s regulations regarding autonomous cars, “Manufacturers, software developers and others interested in testing their vehicles in Nevada must submit an application to the Department along with proof that one or more of your autonomous vehicles have been driven for a combined minimum of at least 10,000 miles, a complete description of your autonomous technology, a detailed safety plan, and your plan for hiring and training your test drivers.”
Lawmakers are now hoping to ease up on some of these requirements for autonomous cars, which will make it easier for manufacturers and developers to join the program and bring more business into the state.
Google’s Future in Self-Driving
Google’s self-driving project, called Waymo, is expected to really put autonomous cars on the map. The project has given the company a team of experts who have used their combined knowledge to rack up over 1 billion simulated self-driven miles and 2 million on-road testing miles since it kicked off in 2009.
By building a test site, and subsequently backing the new legislation to lower restrictions in Nevada, Google could see the bright future of Waymo blossom very soon. If this happens, a company with Google’s influence and stature could make autonomous cars more mainstream and available to the public at reasonable prices – much like it did with Android after purchasing the software in 2005.
There’s no word yet on when the new facilities will be built or even utilized once they come to fruition. Knowing Google, though, the company most likely won’t waste any time getting to work. Let’s face it, Tesla is giving Google its biggest competition in autonomous driving right now, and it’s safe to say that neither one wants to come in second place.
As we get closer to the development of self-driving cars, it’s an interesting time to be alive in this technology-driven era. It’ll be exciting to see what happens in the near future with autonomous driving, no matter which company perfects it first.