Cruise, a subsidiary of General Motors, is allowed to test self-driving cars in the US state of California without a driver behind the wheel.

The company is allowed to hit the road with five autonomous vehicles in a designated area in San Francisco, the local transportation authority announced on its website.

California is a sought-after state for companies working on self-driving cars.

Technology companies settle here in large numbers, but the region also has a favorable and sunny climate.

The fact that more difficult weather conditions are less common makes the initial tests of self-driving vehicles easier.

The local transport authority has given dozens of companies permission to drive self-driving cars with a driver.

This person is in the car to intervene if necessary.

However, Cruise is the fifth company to be allowed to perform the tests without a human behind the wheel.

In a post on the Medium blogging service, General Motors CEO Dan Ammann writes that the autonomous cars will be driving around San Francisco this year.

He calls the removal of the human driver a milestone for self-driving cars.

A month ago Zoox, a subsidiary of internet giant Amazon, was also given permission for these types of tests.

Previously, the California transportation authority granted permission to Waymo, a company born out of Google's efforts to develop self-driving car technology.