By David Undercoffler, September 16, 2014
Think twice next time you tailgate that new Audi in front of you; there might not be a human driving it.
announced Tuesday that it is the first automaker to get a permit from
the state of California to test self-driving cars on public roads. New
state regulations took effect the same day specifically allowing such
testing for the first time in California, per a law signed by Gov. Jerry
Brown in 2012.
is a driving force behind the research taking automated driving from
science fiction to pre-production readiness,” Scott Keogh, president of
Audi of America, said in a statement. “Obtaining the first permit issued
by the state of California shows that we intend to remain the leader in
this vital technology frontier.”
The German automaker is one of
many that have already started testing self-driving technology
elsewhere. Others include Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford, GM; many
expect to have such vehicles on the road by 2020.
2025, as many as 230,000 new autonomous vehicles a year could hit the
roads around the world. That number could swell to 11.8 million a decade
later, according to a study released by IHS Automotive.
is one of four states in the U.S. that now allow automakers to test
self-driving cars on public roads. Michigan, Florida and Nevada also
allow it. Gov. Brown was keen to put California at the forefront of such
testing when he signed the law in September 2012.
vehicles are another example of how California’s technological
leadership is turning today’s science fiction into tomorrow’s reality,”
Brown said at the time. “This law will allow California’s pioneering
engineers to safely test and implement this amazing new technology.”
The regulations going into effect today place strict guidelines on the car, its manufacturer and the human pilot testing it.
automaker must put up a $5 million bond against a failure to pay any
claims resulting in an accident, have a net worth of at least $5
million, train anyone who will be in the car’s driver seat and have
tested the self-driving car in a simulated environment before putting it
on public roads.
car itself needs to be registered as a self-driving car with the DMV,
and be capable of driving like a normal car when the self-driving system
is turned off.
The driver must be an employee of the automaker,
be a licensed driver for a minimum of three years, have a clean driving
record and be sober and seated in the driver’s seat at all times.
an eager 16-year-old with a new license, Audi isn’t wasting any time
putting its new permit to use. The automaker already has a
specially-equipped A7 autonomous car in the San Francisco area that it
plans to begin testing immediately.