With over 700,000 miles racked up—on fairly safe test courses—without any accidents, Google’s self-driving cars are proving to be a major star of the company’s projects. With Google’s progress in the field leading the charge, self-driving cars from multiple manufacturers will be hitting California roads next month.
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The California Department of Motor Vehicles awarded 29 permits to test the cars with 25 going to Google. Other manufacturers with permits include Audi and Daimler AG-Mercedes Benz who took two permits a piece. California law on autonomous cars—established in 2012—allow for any company to pick up a permit relatively cheaply—for the permit itself. A permit for the first car is $150 with additional cars being $50. The price jumps dramatically considering $5 million in insurance is factored in.
The California DMV’s conditions for manufacturers are as follows:
Manufacturer must register the test vehicle with DMV.
Manufacturer must have completed previous autonomous vehicle testing under controlled conditions.
Manufacturer uses qualified test drivers who complete a training program and obey all provisions of the Vehicle Code.
Manufacturer test drivers sit in the driver seat and are capable of immediately taking control of the vehicle.
Manufacturer reports to DMV any accident involving a test vehicle or any situation where the autonomous technology disengages during operation.
Manufacturer maintains $5 million insurance or surety bond.
The insurance price for testing on public roads benefits the DMV greatly and also allows for the self-driving car manufacturers to get in real world experience among more conventional drivers. The real world tests will allow most likely accelerate developments in the technology of autonomous vehicles given that these cars would be around drivers of various driving styles as opposed to dealing with drivers in a sanitized, controlled setting and simulating situations.