Last Tuesday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued the first official permits for testing self-driving cars on public roads. A Reuters article published late last week reported that the department had issued 29 permits, 25 of which went to local Internet behemoth Google; Mercedes-Benz and Audi received two permits apiece.
While the testing of autonomous vehicles has been underway in California for several years, the state only recently outlined the requirements necessary for companies to test their driverless prototypes. The newly formed Autonomous Vehicle Regulations mandate that car manufacturers maintain a $5 million insurance or surety bond to cover potential damages and that every self-driving vehicle have a test driver sitting in the driver’s seat to take over in case of emergency.
In an official press release, California DMV director Jean Shimoto sounded confident that driverless cars are the way forward: “Autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation. The potential safety and mobility benefits are enormous. 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.”