Audi Snags First Automaker Permit To Test Self-Driving Cars On Public Roads In California

While Google has been tootling around California with its driverless cars, causing gawkers to stop and gawk and generally make traffic disturbances, there hasn’t yet been an automaker prepared to dip its toes into the world of driverless cars. Audi just snagged the bragging rights to being the first car maker to get a permit from California to test its own self-driving cars on the public highways and byways of the state.

The permit announcement comes on the same day that the California Department of Motor Vehicles officially instituted new rules about how automakers can test these cars, reports the Los Angeles Times.

It’s the first time California has issued such regulations, which say that manufacturers have to register driverless vehicles, insure them up to $5 million each, finish testing programs and only use qualified drivers who work for the automaker. Any accidents involving the test cars must be reported to the DMV.

“Autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “Testing on public roads is one step to developing this technology, and the DMV is excited in facilitating the advancement of autonomous vehicles in California.”

While Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford and General Motors are all busy tinkering away in their car ships with plans to release autonomous vehicles in the future, Audi gets to claim it was the very first. By 2025, the roads could be full of as many as 230,000 new driverless cars every year, says a study by IHS Automotives, proving there are plenty of people out there who would rather leave the driving to a robot.

I remain unimpressed until someone shows me a flying car like the Jetsons. Otherwise I’m just afraid of this unembeddable scene from Silicon Valley happening because it TOTALLY WOULD.

Audi gets first permit to test self-driving cars on California roads [Los Angeles Times]