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These are the 30 Companies that are Testing Autonomous Vehicles in California

Happy Sunday everyone! My latest find in uncovering the research needed for Connected Car planning, was through Apple being praised for its permit to test Autonomous Vehicles in California. I felt that there was a need to provide more information on the other companies who are also testing self-driving cars in California.

California's  AV Testing Law 101  

In 2014 California adopted a new law for companies who wanted to test AV's within the state had to register with the DMV in order to obtain a permit. The DMV provides a checklist with everything that is needed in order to test these self-driving cars, and it can be found in their new Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program. Here are somethings that I found were interesting...

This program has the permit checklist. Reading through the checklist you'll find very interesting information on the limitations placed on rideshare economy programs. At this time California only allows you to drive the AV's for testing purposes only. This isn't at a cheap price either. If you are thinking about testing AV's on the roads in California you'll have to start with a $5 million cash or check for self-insurance purposes. There is also a report that you have to provide which provides the public with transparency of the overall connected vehicles performance information aka Disengagement Program reports. 

There are 30 Companies Testing AV's in California

Most recently Apple has dominated the news with its AV test permit in CA. By all means this is great news, but who else is testing these cars? Now comparing to the 11 companies who tested in 2016, and 7 companies that tested in 2015, this is a major signal for California developing a robust case for Transportation Planners to start proactively planning for AV's. 

Volkswagen Group of America

Mercedes Benz


Delphi Automotive

Tesla Motors



GM Cruise LLC




Zoox Inc. Inc.

Faraday & Future Inc.


Wheego Electric Cars Inc.

Valeo North America, Inc.

NextEV USA, Inc.

Telenav, Inc.

NVIDIA Corporation

AutoX Technologies Inc


Udacity, Inc

Navya Inc.

Renovo Motors Inc


PlusAi Inc

Nuro, Inc

CarOne LLC

Apple Inc.


I wanted to take a logical analysis of seeing who's actually in the lead when it comes to the race for developing the first fully functioning AV. My approach uses the total of Miles driven in AV mode vs. the number of times the car had to Disengage itself from AV mode. What I really like about the reports is that they are mandated to include the reason for why the cars are going from AV mode to human driver mode. This alone will help Transit Planners  prioritize what infrastructure or road design improvements need to be made in order to help the smooth transition of AV's into our world.

Disclaimer: I acknowledge that my method for determining who's in the AV race, is based on statistics found within the State of California

Miles vs Disengagements vs Amount of Vehicles vs Type of Streets  


635,868 miles (124 disengagements) // 60 testing cars // Suburban Streets in Mountain View, CA + neighboring communities Interstate, Freeway, Highway, Street

GM Cruise:

9,729.81 miles ( 284 disengagements)  // 25 testing cars // City Streets in San Francisco


4,099 miles (28 disengagements) // 5 testing cars // Interstate, Freeway, Highway, Rural roads, Street, Parking facility


3,125.3 miles (178 disengagements)  // 2 testing cars vehicles Ford Fusion // Highways


983 miles (more than 1,000 disengagements) // 3 testing cars //Highways, rural roads, parking lots, 


687 miles (1 disengagement) //  1 test car // Highway


673.42 miles (336 disengagements)  // 1 testing car // No highway driving, mainly urban streets


590 miles  (3 disengagements) // 2 testing cars  // Type of roads not indicated


550 miles (more than 25 disengagements) // 4 testing cars //Freeway, Arterial, Suburban Road, Unknown


Unknown miles: Did not test on public roads in California, but did test on a closed circuit roadway called GoMentum Station located in Contra Costa County  Volkswagen:

Unknown miles: Did not test on public roads in California

Google Takes the Lead

In the past year Google's Waymo has dominated the race with having the most amount of miles of driving in AV mode, the most amount of vehicles that have been used for testing, and the least amount of disengagements from the average of amount of miles + amount of cars. They have also strategically driven their vehicles in optimum spaces where vehicles are going to have the least amount of disengagements.

Autonomous Vehicle Testing Locations

This brings me to my next reason of why AV transportation planner should be proactively planning for this new mode of transit. The reasoning of understanding the locations of where companies are testing AV's.  For instance you have Google mainly testing on local arterial roads in the suburbs of Mountain View, CA. These roads won't have heavy congested collector arterial roads that you'll find in the inner cities. With suburban roads you'll most likely encounter one particular mode of transit and that is a transit that is another vehicle, it will highly be a cluster of pedestrians crossing an intersection or a pack of cyclists during peak hour. These roads have been designed for cars. It's history repeating itself, and with history on our side we can't have that again. If we are going to plan for the integration of AV, we must plan for  them and our other multiple modes of transit. 

Fun Facts: Testing Locations

Concord County, CA has the largest AV testing site called GoMentum Station. Companies such as BMW, Honda, and Apple have used this site for testing connected vehicles. GoMentum Station isn't just a regular piece of land for testing AV. It's an old navy field that has been turned into a closed circuit AV hot spot testing hub where there's an annual summit to exchange ideas. The U.S. Department of Transportation has named GoMentum Station as one of the top 10 testing locations for AV.  

Fancy AV's

These are the types of autonomous vehicles that are currently being tested on the roads of California. If you're out on the road and see one of these cars, it might just be an autonomous vehicle in test mode. 


AV Transportation Planner Recommendations 

  • Standardized the description of classifying road names. When describing the road types be consistent. Use the State's road classification system for consistent standardized names.

  • Plan for all modes of transportation when testing AV's. Look into better infrastructure design methods for benefiting pedestrians, bicyclists and AV technology recognition. 

  • Start small and think big when planning for testing locations. Location matters in that turning old navy fields into pseudo cities is a start, but the location in which the cars are tested out in our natural built environments matters. Our built environments are composed of unprecedented irrational scenarios that won't be found in pseudo cities, these vehicles need deep learning artificial intelligence capabilities in order to learn on the spot. 

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