California and especially Los Angeles are known for their car cultures. So it seems logical that a number of companies are looking to test their self-driving cars in the state. Audi was the first company to apply for the permits so it makes sense that they were also the first to receive them though many who live in California would certainly argue that there exists very little logic when dealing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Self-driving cars: Audi gets first permits, Google gets the most
29 permits were issued on Tuesday according to state officials. Two went to Volkswagen AG (ADR) (OTCMKTS:VLKAY) (ETR:VOW)’s Audi AG (ETR:NSU) (OTCMKTS:AUDVF) as well as two to Daimler AG (USA) (OTCMKTS:DDAIF) (ETR:DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz, while Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) and its 25 Toyota Motor Corp (TYO:7203) (NYSE:TM) Lexus SUVs received one permit for each. Audi was the first automaker to obtain a license for an autonomous car in Nevada, in 2012.
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All of this information came via Bernard Soriano of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Audi is a driving force behind the research taking automated driving from science fiction to pre-production readiness,” Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, said in a statement. “Obtaining the first permit issued by the state of California shows that we intend to remain the leader in this vital technology frontier.”
While Google and others have been testing self-driving cars in California for some time, the state finally drew up regulations in the the last few years and the law that was passed in 2012 took effect on Tuesday.
Self-driving cars: Good for California
“Autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “Testing on public roads is one step to developing this technology, and the DMV is excited in facilitating the advancement of autonomous vehicles in California.”
The regulations that went into effect on Tuesday require that the vehicles are registered and that they are bonded for $5 million each. Additionally, they all need a trained driver behind the wheel that can take over at any time and companies are required to report any accidents immediately to the DMV.
Analyst Thilo Koslowski, automotive practice leader at the research firm Gartner, praised California’s initiative and (legal) initiatives.
“It’s a great opportunity for California,” he said. “A lot of the technologies and companies involved in self-driving vehicles are based here. It makes a lot of sense to see the state officially enabling the testing of these vehicles.”
With this week’s regulations California joins Michigan, Florida and Nevada as states that are already allowing testing.