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California Gives Three Automakers Permits for Self-Driving Cars

TMCnet Feature

September 22, 2014

California Gives Three Automakers Permits for Self-Driving Cars

By Frank Griffin
TMCnet Contributing Writer

The thought of driving is becoming less appealing for younger generations as they contemplate the traffic, cost of vehicle ownership, environmental impact and the ever increasing number of vehicles on the roads. Automobile manufacturers are well aware of this trend, and are trying to introduce vehicles that drive themselves in order to get rid of many of the issues discouraging consumers from considering purchasing a car. While Google is getting all the headlines for its self-driving car, it is not the only company developing this technology. As more companies test these vehicles on the road, states around the country are writing new legislations to accommodate this technology. The state of California issued its first 29 permits to test self-driving cars on public roads to three companies.

California gave Google (News - Alert) permits for testing 25 adapted Lexus SUVs, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz received two permits and the other two went to Audi, as announced by Bernard Soriano of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. He also made it known there are other automakers and automotive suppliers who are in the process of filing for the permits, which indicates this will not be a niche market controlled by luxury car manufacturers.

California joins Michigan, Florida and Nevada in allowing testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads, which is seen by many legislators as a growth industry with many potential benefits for their state. The California regulation was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012 and it took effect on 9-16-204.

The new regulations require manufacturers to register autonomous vehicles with insurance or bond for $5 million each, complete testing programs, use qualified drivers employed by the manufacturing company and report any accidents with test vehicles to the DMV.

The Audi A7 was the first self-driving vehicles to receive the permit on public California roads as well as in Florida, which it carried out earlier this year. Other manufacturers currently testing self-driving automobiles include Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford and General Motors.

According to a study released by IHS (News - Alert) Automotive, new autonomous vehicles are expected to be on the road by 2025 with as many as 230,000 new vehicles being sold annually. The study also forecasts that number could reach to as many as 11.8 million autonomous vehicles by 2035.

“Audi is a driving force behind the research taking automated driving from science fiction to pre-production readiness. Obtaining the first permit issued by the state of California shows that we intend to remain the leader in this vital technology frontier,” Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America (News - Alert), said in a statement.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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