If you find yourself on a California expressway, you may just be next to a self-driving Audi . That’s right; Audi snagged California’s first permit that allows autonomous driving for automakers developing the technology . The news comes after years of negotiations between several automakers and the State of California to allow more extensive testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads.
The news is especially important for Audi, as its Electronics Research Laboratory is in Belmont, California. Now the German automaker can stick closer to its Belmont base camp rather than testing in Nevada, a state that has previously welcomed driverless cars.
While this milestone marks a first for California, it isn’t Audi’s first autonomous rodeo. The automaker has logged tens of thousands of autonomous driving across Europe.
“Driverless vehicle technology has the potential to revolutionize driving, reduce traffic accidents and save lives,” says California Senator Alex Padilla. “I applaud the efforts of Audi of America and others whose commitment is making this technology a reality.”
Audi and future autonomous-testing automakers will have to show proof of insurance or surety bonds before being awarded a permit for testing — a slight formality for automotive giants sinking big bucks into driverless research and development.
Audi’s automated Piloted driving system is geared toward freeway traffic conditions, eliminating the need for a human to control the vehicle through crowded, mostly straight-line, stop-and-go traffic situations. Current internal forecasts have Audi introducing driverless systems to the public within a five-year timeframe.
Click past the jump to read more about Audi’s self-driving technology .