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Ford's autonomous cars will hit the streets of California next year

Ford is the latest company to receive a permit from California to test its autonomous cars on public roadways. The California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program provides a regulatory framework for companies to legally test self-driving cars.

The autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans have been developed by Ford's Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, where more than 100 researchers work on advanced tech for the Detroit giant.

California is proving to be one of the most popular proving grounds for autonomous cars, thanks to established regulations and a vast amount of technical talent. Ford joins a number of existing carmakers with autonomous car permits including BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Tesla, and Volkswagen, as well as less traditional manufacturers like Google.

As autonomous driving goes, the rest of the country is still a patchwork of state-by-state regulations (or lack thereof), which may make development of self-driving cars in California a little more palatable for lawsuit-wary companies.