Gov. Pete Ricketts officially threw out the welcome mat June 25 for driverless vehicles in Nebraska, with a ceremony at UNL’s Innovation Campus.

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(This report has been moved to the top of the page due to the amount of interest in driverless vehicles. – Editor.)

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As the recent legislative session ended in May, A bill paving the way for autonomous (driverless) vehicles in Nebraska was enacted by the legislature and signed by Ricketts as the legislative session ended in May.

The bill, LB 989, was carried by Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln.

“With LB 989, we have positioned Nebraska as a leader in the area of autonomous vehicle technology,” Ricketts said Monday.  “As the technology advances in years to come, it has the potential to save lives and make our roads safer places for all.”

He thanked Wishart and all the senators who helped with LB 989.

Ricketts was joined at the ceremony by Wishart, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, representatives from the Alliance of Automobiles and representatives of the Nebraska Innovation Campus, which is a part of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

“Transportation and communications technology are evolving at a rapid rate and many cities, states, and institutions are already pursuing driverless technology to stay competitive,” Wishart said.

LB 989 creates a statewide policy authorizing the use of automated driving systems and driverless-capable vehicles.

With a federal exemption, automated-driving-system-equipped vehicles may operate on any road in the state with or without a conventional driver physically present in the vehicle.

The bill authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to title and register automated-driving-system-equipped vehicles and driverless-capable vehicles if the vehicle has been granted an exemption from the federal motor vehicle safety standards by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If a conventional driver is present, they are required to hold a valid operator’s license. The vehicle must follow all the rules of the road. Automated vehicles may also be used for network transportation, including ride sharing and public transportation, the governor’s office said.

In the event of a crash or collision, the automated-driving-system-equipped vehicle is required to stay at the scene of the incident and comply with existing laws for motor vehicle crashes.

LB 989 includes a provision that clearly states the act does not require the state or any political subdivision to plan, design, construct, maintain, or modify any road for the accommodation of automated vehicles.

LB 989 has received the support of corporate manufactures Uber and Tesla, as well as the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

“This legislation will go a long way in reducing the more than 30,000 roadway fatalities on U.S. roads,” according to Amy Brink, vice president of state affairs for the Alliance of Automobiles. “It identifies Nebraska as a leader in AV (autonomous vehicle) policy and shows the rest of the country that the Cornhusker State is open for business and ready to help foster this life-saving technology.”