Waymo has secured 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 came into force in April and enable firms to apply for complete autonomous car testing permits, with Waymo the first company to receive one.

Waymo is a Google spin-off owned by parent company Alphabet.

The permit allows Waymo’s autonomous cars to drive in designated areas, including parts of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto.

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The company is allowed to test its driverless cars during day and night on city streets, rural roads and highways with speed limits of up to 65mph.

“We will gradually begin driverless testing on city streets in a limited territory and, over time, expand the area that we drive in.”

In a statement, Waymo said: “Our vehicles can safely handle fog and light rain, and testing in those conditions is included in our permit. We will gradually begin driverless testing on city streets in a limited territory and, over time, expand the area that we drive in as we gain confidence and experience to expand.

“If a Waymo vehicle comes across a situation it doesn’t understand, it does what any good driver would do, comes to a safe stop until it does understand how to proceed.”

The company added that its fleet of self-driving cars will follow established protocols, which include contacting Waymo fleet and rider support to resolve any issues.

After launching driverless testing in 2009, Waymo has driven more than ten million autonomous miles on public roads across 25 cities.