Audi has announced that it will be the first auto manufacturer to receive an autonomous driving permit from the State of California. The new autonomous vehicle laws that went into effect yesterday require the German automaker to submit a surety of bond of at least US$5 million per vehicle in order to qualify.

Audi acquired a Nevada autonomous driving plate in 2012 and was the first manufacturer to test on a connected freeway this July in Florida. But according to Audi, California is especially crucial as the automaker’s Electronics Research Lab (ERL), located in the state, is working on critical issues such as human-machine interfaces. It is also home to Stanford University, which collaborated with Audi on the autonomous Pike Peak’s 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."

Over the past ten years, Audi has trial tested autonomous vehicles over tens of thousands of miles in Europe and select states in the US. The company believes its autonomous technology will be ready for practical consumer application within the next five years.

Footage of the autonomous Audi A7 from the Tampa drive can be seen below.

Source: Audi

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