While some companies, like Toyota, have nixed the idea of building a fully autonomous car, others have embraced it with open arms.
One of those companies is Audi, which has been a proponent of self-driving cars for some time now. In 2010, an autonomous Audi TTS research car famously conquered the Pike’s Peak mountain course in 27 minutes, completely sans driver.
Since then, the German automaker has slowly integrated self-driving features into its vehicles. Just last week, Audi announced a semi-autonomous technology that will allow its cars to navigate stop-and-go traffic up to 37 mph completely on their own.
The next big leap toward self-driving came today for the company, when Audi was granted the first autonomous driving permit in the state of California. The announcement comes on the heels of a new law that governs automated driving in the state.
The law allows driverless cars to be tested on any state road, provided that they can prove surety bond coverage of at least $5 million per vehicle.
“Audi is a driving force behind the research taking automated driving from science fiction to pre-production readiness,” said Scott Keogh, President of Audi America. “Obtaining the first permit issued by the State of California shows that we intend to remain the leader in this vital technology frontier.”
This isn’t the first time that Audi was first to the autonomous driving party. Always on a hair trigger for technological breakthroughs, the automaker was the first OEM to receive permission to test self-drivers in Nevada in 2012.
Also, in July, Audi was the first to impress Florida Governor Rick Scott by flaunting its automated tech on a designated strip of highway called a ‘Connected Vehicle Test Bed.’
Other than California, Nevada, and Florida, the only other state that permits self-driving vehicles is Michigan.