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CA self-driving car permits go to Audi, Google, VW & More

Audi self-driving carYesterday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles started issuing permits to car makers to test self-driving autonomous cars on roads in California . Audi was the first to get a permit, while Google is expected to have the highest number of autonomous vehicles (AVs) with a total of twenty-five. Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have two registered autonomous vehicles each.  There are small number of other companies applying.

Audi stated in a news release California roads are especially crucial to Audi Piloted driving testing because the state is home to the brand’s Electronics Research Lab.

The permits require “vehicles” to have manual controls accoridng California autonomous vehicle code. The DMVstarted accepting applications on July 1. The code states that an autonomous vehicles can not be operated on a a public road:

§227.34 (d) “When the operator is not seated in the vehicle’s driver seat and with monitoring its operations and able to take over physical control of the vehicle or in physical control of the vehicle.”
Companies paid a $150 Non-refundable application fee includes permits for 10 vehicles and 20 drivers/operators per application. The application requires the make, model and vehicle identification numbers of the cars being tested.

Testing companies  have to show proof of $5 million in insurance. Insurance companies are grappling with actuaries to figure out what to charge for autonomous car insurance. 

The testing company must report all accidents with circumstance, location, description, total number of miles and  how long it took for the human driver being alerted to when s/he assumed control of the car within ten days. Test drivers must have a good driving record and have completed training.

Companies currently testing autonomous driverless cars include:

  1. Ford GM and Toyota in Michigan.
  2. Audi in various locations, most recently Florida where the Audi A7 had to reboot on the expressway.
  3. Mercedes-Benz in Germany.
  4. Nissan in Japan.
  5. Volvo in Sweden.
  6. Google in California.

Nevada, Florida and Michigan have laws that allow testing of self-driving autonomous cars. Nevada has issued autonomous permits to Google, VW and automotive supplier Continental.

Autonomous self-driving cars could save tons of money. Some studies show that Americans want a driverless connected car  while others show that the public is worried. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) found that people surveyed feel positive about connected vehicles, have optimistic expectations of the benefits, have some concerns, and generally desire connected-vehicle technology when it becomes available. Pew Research discovered that the public wants autonomous, robotic, driverless cars even more than brain implants or cloned meat.