Audi apparently knows how to get to the front of a line when it comes to driverless vehicles. The German automaker had the honor of being the very first company to receive one of California's new autonomous vehicle driving permits. It was a perfect followup to it being among the earliest ones to get a similar permit in Nevada a few years ago.

Getting the California permit is a big deal for the automaker because the state is also home to Audi's Electronics Research Lab. Among its current projects, Audi is working on the human-machine interface to communicate whether the person or vehicle is actually controlling the driving. All of this hard work is building toward offering autonomous motoring in freeway conditions in the next five years, Audi claims.

Obviously, autonomous vehicles from companies like Google have been testing in California for a while, but the new permits are meant to safeguard public safety when testing the driverless cars in public. The new rules include things like always having a person able to take control and more stringent standards like registering each autonomous car and the eligible drivers with the state. Any models testing on public roads also have to carry at least $5 million in insurance in case of injury, death or property damage.

Audi has been toiling away at getting autonomous technology to work for years now. In addition to the Nevada testing, it recently showed off its Traffic Jam Assistant, and the company's driverless TTS made it up Pikes Peak in 2010. Scroll down to read about its latest step forward with the next-gen tech.
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Audi receives first autonomous driving permit issued by the State of California

- New California laws governing the testing of automated driving go into effect today.

- Regulations require surety bond coverage of at least $5 million for each vehicle covered by a license; allow testing on any state road

- Audi was the first OEM to gain a Nevada autonomous driving plate in 2012, and the first to test on new Florida connected car expressway


HERNDON, Va., September 16, 2014 – Audi will be the first company to receive a newly established autonomous driving permit issued by California. A range of new regulations that govern the testing of automated driving on the state's roads take effect today.

Audi has conducted research over tens of thousands of miles in Europe and various U.S. states, where such testing is permitted. The research is aimed at preparing a highly automated Piloted driving system for freeway traffic conditions. Audi envisions this technology could be ready for consumer introduction within five years.

California roads are especially crucial to Audi Piloted driving testing because the state is home to the brand's Electronics Research Lab. ERL engineers are working on a wide range of automated driving issues, including human-machine interface prompts that indicate when the human or the vehicle are handling driving functions.

Audi and ERL researchers have been involved in the pursuit of automated driving from its earliest stages. Audi, ERL and Stanford University engineers collaborated on the development of the Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak car, which successfully completed the challenging 12.42-mile route of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race in Colorado in 27 minutes without a human in the car.

"Audi is a driving force behind the research taking automated driving from science fiction to pre-production readiness," said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America. "Obtaining the first permit issued by the State of California shows that we intend to remain the leader in this vital technology frontier."

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 Piloted driving.

Regulations taking effect today include proof of insurance or surety bonds for manufacturers testing automated driving research cars, and permits for company-designated operators of those vehicles.

"California has shown time and time again that it is a global technological leader and today marks the beginning of a new era for the auto industry," Sen. Padilla said. "Driverless vehicle technology has the potential to revolutionize driving, reduce traffic accidents and save lives. I applaud the efforts of Audi of America and others whose commitment is making this technology a reality,"

In 2012, Audi was the first automotive OEM to receive one of the red autonomous vehicle license plates issues by the State of Nevada. In July, with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Audi was the first automaker to demonstrate the capability of its automated driving technologies on a Tampa expressway newly designated as an autonomous and connected car test bed.

Download an image of the Audi A7 Traffic Jam Pilot prototype in a classic California setting at audiusanews.com here: http://audi.us/1qIUv8j

The newest running footage of Audi automated driving technology can be found at audiusanews.com here: http://audi.us/1Dc0iaw

See the Audi A7 Traffic Jam Pilot prototype in action on the AudiUSA YouTube channel here: http://audi.us/1qRRAcn

ABOUT AUDI

Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. The Audi Group delivered 1,575,500 vehicles to customers globally in 2013, and broke all-time company sales records for the 4th straight year in the U.S. Through 2018, AUDI AG will invest about $30 billion on new products, facilities and technologies. Visit www.audiusa.com or www.audiusanews.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

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