Chinese startup AutoX has reportedly applied for a permit to test self-driving vehicles without an in-car backup driver in California, US.

With the approval, AutoX can test self-driving cars with a remote human operator.

AutoX chief operating officer Jewel Li was reported by Reuters as saying: “After three years of efforts, we believe that we have a technology that can go in deep, and safe for the public.”

Founded in 2016 by Jianxiong Xiao, the company is backed by Chinese firms Dongfeng Motor Group and Alibaba.

According to data provider Pitchbook, the company has secured $143m investment to date.

It has deployed around 100 RoboTaxi vehicles in China and trialled them in ten cities, including Shenzhen and Shanghai in China and San Jose, California.

Last year, Alphabet subsidiary Waymo was the first to secure a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to trial its autonomous cars on public roads without a driver present in the vehicle.

New California DMV regulations became effective in April, enabling firms to apply for complete autonomous car testing permits.

AutoX is one of the only four companies with a different permit, allowing the company to test autonomous cars with passengers and a backup driver. Other firms that received this permit include start-up Zoox, and Waymo.

In addition, Tesla, Lyft and Cruise have received permission from California DMV to test autonomous vehicles with backup drivers.