The California Department of Motor Vehicles has officially issued a permit to Baidu USA to begin testing driverless vehicles on public roads in Sunnyvale, CA.
According to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), as of Jan. 27, the agency has issued Autonomous Vehicle Driverless Testing Permits to six companies: Autox Technologies, Baidu, Cruise, Nuro, Waymo and Zoox.
It announced in a news release that “while Baidu has had state authority to test autonomous vehicles with safety drivers since 2016, the new permit allows the company to test three autonomous vehicles without a driver behind the wheel on specified streets within Sunnyvale, located in Santa Clara County.”
According to the DMV, Baidu’s vehicles “are designed to operate on roads with posted speed limits not exceeding 45 miles per hour.”
Companies are allowed to test their driverless cars at any time during the day or night and are prohibited from operating the cars during “heavy fog or rain.”
In order to qualify for a driverless testing permit, a company must meet certain guidelines, including proving that it has insurance or a bond equal to $5 million. A company must also verify that the vehicles it tests are capable of operating without a driver and have been tested under controlled conditions that simulate the planned area of operation.
With no one inside the car driving, the cars must still meet federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards or have an exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and be at a SAE Level 4 or 5.
Driverless cars operate through an artificial intelligence system designed to sense surroundings, process visual data to avoid collisions, operate the steering and brake, and use GPS tracking.
“Companies like Google’s Waymo have put AI inside virtual cars and have the vehicles ‘drive’ billions of virtual miles, throwing every perceivable obstacle and…