California, you may have noticed more robot cars on your roads than usual over the past year. That’s because autonomous vehicle testing is booming in the state, with AV companies having driven more than 4 million miles in 2021, according to data released by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This represents a sharp increase over the previous two years, a sign that the AV industry has come roaring back after the pandemic-influenced lockdowns of 2020.
There were also fewer companies testing vehicles overall, a reflection of the increased pace of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place in recent years. Of the 50 companies registered with the DMV, only 22 reported testing during the year. Despite skepticism about the longer-than-expected timeline to mass adoption of AV technology, the companies say they expect to begin to roll out their first commercial services starting this year.