Audi was one of the pioneers in the area of autonomous cars, having built a TT prototype that in 2010 tackled Colorado’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb entirely on its own. A year ago Audi demonstrated some of its more advanced autonomous car technology; called Piloted Driving by Audi, the technology included a system that allowed a car to park itself in a garage and a system that could handle traffic jams.
Audi is currently testing the systems in the real world, having been the first automaker to receive an autonomous car permit from the state of Nevada and having completed tests on a highway in Florida. Now, Audi is the first automaker to receive a new autonomous car permit from the state of California.
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California has allowed limited use of its roads for automated vehicle testing in past years. But the state legislature, led by Sen. Alex Padilla, passed legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2012 to establish new guidelines for testing and eventually consumer use of technologies, such as Audi’s Piloted Driving system.
Regulations starting this week include proof of insurance or surety bonds for manufacturers testing automated driving research cars, and permits for company-designated operators of those vehicles. The regulations require surety bond coverage of at least $5 million for each vehicle covered by a permit.
Audi’s first Piloted Driving systems offered to customers are expected to be for traffic jam and highway usage. Audi envisions the technology could be ready within five years. If you can’t wait that long, the leader in the field, Mercedes-Benz, already offers the technology on some of its models, and Cadillac has just announced that it will introduce it on a new model in the 2017 model year.