Gardena-based electric car company Faraday Future (FF) gets a green light for testing its driverless vehicles on California roads. The Chinese-backed company's prototypes are expected to be out in the streets later this year.
Confirmation of Faraday Future gaining approval to test its vehicles within the Golden State came on June 17 via a California Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson. With this, FF joins the ranks of GM, BMW, Google, Volkswagen and several others that got approval for testing autonomous vehicles within California's roads.
The number of auto companies that will start testing their autonomous vehicles will slowly pile up as the year end approaches. However, the public can comfort themselves in knowing that before self-driving vehicles hit California streets, a test driver must be present. Moreover, Faraday disclosed that it is looking into a vehicle that can freely switch to manual mode.
"Through this enhanced testing, and under the constant supervision of our qualified test drivers who will be behind the steering wheel at all times, we are confident in the success of the autonomous technologies that we are developing for future FF products," says a Faraday Future spokesperson.
Aside from California, Faraday Future is also currently seeking approval from the Michigan Department of Transportation to test its cars. FF is currently applying for three manufacturer plates. Prior to the application, the startup got in touch with Director Kirk Steudle about how to secure plates for autonomous vehicles. However, when asked, Faraday Future neither confirmed nor denied whether the plates will be used to test its driverless cars.
"The plates will be used to help test various FF-vehicle prototypes and features," says Faraday Future in an email to The Detroit News. "We cannot comment on the specifics of those tests at this time."
Faraday Future unveiled its concept car, FFZero1, during CES 2016. Nonetheless, it should not be expected that the upcoming self-driving prototypes will look like the FFZero1. Furthermore, the company admitted that it is still in the process of working out the software and mechanical systems of its self-driving vehicle.
Nick Sampson, FF senior vice president for research and development, says that full prototypes for the production lineup will be available before the year ends. Hence, the company will probably test individual mechanical parts and software systems using its mules first.
More than two months ago, Faraday Future held a ground breaking ceremony for its billion-dollar factory in Las Vegas. It has been purported that the startup plans to build and sell its electric vehicles within the United States sometime in 2017. However, the company is yet to divulge details regarding its self-driving vehicle program.