From Google to Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and reportedly Apple ... the race to develop a self-driving vehicle is on, full speed ahead.

But who's leading it? Well, having launched its Self-Driving Car Project back in 2009, Google seems to be well ahead of its aforementioned competition in autonomous vehicle development. While the world's most-valuable company's monthly accident reports, regular blog posts and interviews with the media about its continued activity in autonomy show how entrenched it is in developing the technology, there's another factor backing up the idea that Google is leading the race — public records.

Upon gathering data from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, The Atlantic unearthed that out of the 11 companies with test permits for self-driving cars in the state, Google is above and beyond its competition with 73 permits, as of March 1. The manufacturer with the next-most test permits for autonomous vehicles in California? Well, that would be Tesla with eight.

That's significant, considering Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Fortune this past December that his company would have fully-autonomous cars ready to hit the road in 2018, two years ahead of Google's and other automakers' targeted year of 2020.

"I think we have all the pieces, and it's just about refining those pieces, putting them in place, and making sure they work across a huge number of environments - and then we're done," Musk told Fortune just three months ago.

If he's going to make good on that promise, perhaps Tesla should pick up the number of test permits it has in the state. That is, unless the company is privy to something about autonomy that the public isn't.

Regardless, it's pretty eye-popping to see how many test permits Google has stacked up against its competition, with companies such as Cruise Automation (seven permits), Mercedes-Benz (five permits) and Volkswagen, Bosch, Nissan, Delphi and Ford each touting two permits in all trailing Google.

And with its 73 test permits, Google also boasts 230 approved human drivers in California. That's not even counting the testing that the company has going on in Texas and Washington.

A wild card in the race for a self-driving car at this point? Apple, as the company which has done the best job at keeping a low profile about its reported development in the autonomous space thus far.

Still, Google is leading for now. And it should be interesting to see what Chris Urmson, director of Google's Self-Driving Project, has to say Tuesday, when he testifies before Congress, alongside other automakers, about the steps being taken to develop a safe and effective autonomous vehicle.

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