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Honda gets green light to test self-driving cars on California roads

Honda has taken a significant step forward with its self-driving car ambitions, recently obtaining permission from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test its technology on the state’s roads.

The Japanese automaker is now one of around 10 companies – Google, Tesla Motors and Nissan among them – with permission to test self-driving vehicles on California’s public roads.

Related: Google has plans for a lot more of its self-driving cars

The state’s green light means Honda can now start trying out its autonomous driving technology beyond the confines of its testing facility in Concord, just northeast of San Francisco.

The car manufacturer is already known to be working on the development of various self-driving systems related to pedestrian detection and vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

Last summer it showed off a modified Acura RLX laden with sensors and other technology related to its autonomous vehicle research, although at the time Honda senior engineer Eric Blumbergs stopped short of describing it as a full-fledged self-driving car.

Related: Why self-driving cars could cut down commuter congestion

News that Honda can now test on public roads what could turn out to be its first fully autonomous vehicle comes less than two months after the car maker announced it was expanding its Silicon Valley presence with a new R&D center. The facility has a number of projects on the go, including the Honda Xcelerator initiative aimed at bringing together Honda engineers and innovators to commercialize new, relevant technologies.

Honda may up to now have been less vocal about its ambitions in the self-driving space compared to some of its competitors, but its increased presence in Silicon Valley and its clearance to test its self-driving technology on California’s public roads indicate the company is stepping up its efforts to explore the field with an increased sense of purpose.