Self-driving cars are coming – strike that – they are already here in Nebraska.
State lawmakers gave approval to autonomous vehicles throughout Nebraska this past session.
Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln says her bill is just the start of Nebraska’s work on the cutting edge of technology.
“We are living up to the title of Silicon Prairie with LB 989 and I can’t wait in the future to work on other pieces of legislation to support innovation and economic development,” Wishart tells a gathering at the Innovation Campus at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Gov. Pete Ricketts held a ceremonial bill signing of LB 989.
Afterward, he and others got a test ride in an electric autonomous shuttle.
Ricketts gives it a thumbs up.
“That was very cool; that it was taking us around, it didn’t have anybody in charge and it worked perfectly,” Ricketts tells reporters after stepping out of the shuttle.
LB 989 authorizes automated driving systems and driverless-capable vehicles throughout the state. Under the bill, the Department of Motor Vehicles can title and register autonomous vehicles if the vehicle has been granted an exemption by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration. The vehicles can be used for public transportation and ride sharing.
LB 989 has received the support of Uber, Tesla, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Members of the public have been invited to take a ride in the autonomous shuttle at the Innovation Campus, next to the Devaney Center in Lincoln. Rides begin Thursday. They are limited, so residents are encouraged to reserve their seats online by following this process:
· Reserve a 30-minute slot at shuttle.lincoln.ne.gov. Those without online access can call 402-441-7566.
· Arrive at The Mill Coffee & Bistro, Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive, 15 minutes before your ride. Visitor parking is available in the paved lot north of Transformation Drive.
· All riders are urged to participate in surveys about their experience. Survey data will be used to form the final plan for a pilot project in 2019 during which four to six shuttles could operate in downtown Lincoln over the summer.
· All ages may ride the shuttle. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.
· The shuttle shipped to Lincoln for preliminary testing does not have a wheelchair accessible ramp.
Public rides will be offered between 9am and 5pm June 28th and 29th as well as from July 9th through the 13th.
Lincoln received a $100,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to test the shuttle.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]