A California Department of Motor Vehicles website on Friday showed that the South Korean consumer technology giant's name had been added to a list of more than three dozen companies with permits to test self-driving cars in the state.
Names on the list included major car makers, Apple, Baidu, Tesla, and Waymo, which is owned by Google-parent Alphabet.
Samsung Electronics early this year got approval in South Korea to test the technology on roads in that country, according to media there.
Samsung Electronics last year announced a deal to buy US auto parts maker Harman International Industries for $8 billion in a bid to enter the growing market for automotive technology to produce "connected" cars.
Samsung described the deal as a chance to build a strong foundation in a self-driving car technology expected to boom in the years ahead.
The Samsung group dabbled in carmaking business in the 1990s but was soon forced to sell the business to the French carmaker Renault in the wake of the crippling 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.