Without having its own branded vehicle to trial, a new USA-based, Chinese-backed, automotive company has received an Autonomous Vehicle Testing (AVT) Permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), allowing it to start testing autonomous technologies on public roads in the state.
Having wowed audiences at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016) in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier this year with its radical 1,000hp electric-powered concept car, Faraday Future (FF) now joins 13 other technology and automotive companies that are currently exercising the AVT Permit throughout California, including Ford, GM, VW, Honda, Nissan, Tesla Motors, Google, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, among others.
The cars to be tested are unlikely to be its FFZERO1 EV concept but what the company describes as ‘test mule’ vehicles, where FF will use another manufacturers models to trial its own technologies and components. The company says it has been holding engineering test vehicle trials for almost a year, during which, FF test vehicles have faced some of the world’s most extreme environments. Matt Lubbers, FF’s brakes and chassis control engineer, noted, “Some people call a mule a ‘hacked up car. They’re built to test our mechanical and technical systems.”
Each FF test vehicle will be equipped with electronic interfaces to the motors, brakes, steering and other vehicle controls, which are linked to a host of computers and sensors within the car. The test driver can easily and safely engage or disengage manual and autonomous modes, and the vehicle provides visual indicators to the driver when features are operating autonomously. Under the AVT program regulations, each test vehicle must be manned by a licensed test driver at all times while testing on public roads.
“Autonomous driving is a key part of our company’s DNA,” said Jan Becker, senior director of automated driving at Faraday Future. “Traffic situations on public roads are inherently unpredictable. Acquiring the California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit is an important and exciting step forward for FF, allowing us to test our autonomous driving software, sensors, hardware and user interfaces in these ‘real-world’ environments. 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.”
Earlier this month, FF made a major industry statement with the announcement of the appointment of automotive industry leader Marco Mattiacci (above) as its new global chief brand and commercial officer, leading all aspects of branding, marketing, communications, distribution, sales and user/customer experience. He will also sit on key strategy, product, design and HR committees. Mattiacci most recently served as managing director and team principal of the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 racing team, and before that he was president and CEO of Ferrari North America from 2010 to 2014, accelerating a re-branding process in the company’s largest markets (USA and Canada), while bolstering emerging ones, such as Brazil, Chile, and Mexico.