California has issued its first 29 permits this week to Google Inc., Mercedes-Benz and Audi allowing them to test self-driving cars on public roads, state officials disclosed. Google Inc. were given permits to test 25 adapted Lexus SUVs, while Mercedes and Audi were provided two permits each.
According to Bernard Soriano of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Audi was the first to apply for the permits, followed by Mercedes parent Daimler and Google. He disclosed that some carmakers and first-tier automotive suppliers are also in the process of filing for the permits.
While self-driven car testing has been conducted in the state for several years without the permits, its legislature has already required companies to secure before they could run their test cars on public roads. For companies to receive permits, test drivers must be able to take command of an autonomous vehicle at any time.
According to Daimler and Mercedes officials, engineers at the luxury carmaker will "teach" the autonomous cars how to operate safely on US roads through different methods than are used in the testing and development in its home country. Audi disclosed it was the first carmaker to get a license for an autonomous car in Nevada in 2012.