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Driverless A7 Traffic Jam Pilot Gets California Driving Permit

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A7 Traffic Jam Pilot

The Audi A7 Traffic Jam Pilot

One of the threads that seems to be consistently drawn through each and every discussion about autonomous cars is how state governments well regulate them and if there will be any resistance in doing so. Today, we come one step closer to finding out, as Audi has announced that the State of California has made the automaker the first to earn a permit for testing autonomous cars, such as its A7 Traffic Jam Pilot, on public roads.

Audi’s permit for testing autonomous cars is effective as of Tuesday, meaning that it’s entirely possible that any Audi Californians see on the road during their morning commute could well be driverless.

California is the home of Audi’s Electronic Research Lab (ERL), which was also responsible (along with Stanford University engineers) for the Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak car, which was able to do the entire 12.42-mile race into the clouds in 27 minutes without a living soul behind the wheel (though we can’t speak to any ghosts that may have been inhabiting the car at the time).

“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.”

Audi A7 Traffic Jam Pilot Running Footage

In order to get its permit for testing autonomous cars on California roads, Audi had to pony up a $5 million bond against any potential claims for accidents. The new regulations for automated cars require proof of insurance or surety bonds from manufacturers who test driverless cars, as well as permits for those who operate the cars when they are indeed occupied. And before you go thinking that you’re going to build one in your garage and get your own permit, the regulations specify that anyone operating a driverless test car must have a net worth of no less than $5 million.

IHS Automotive believes that the number of autonomous vehicles on public roads in the year 2025 could be as high as 230,000, and that that number could balloon to a figure as high as 11.8 million by 2035.

If you’re out in San Francisco today, keep your eyes peeled for the A7 Traffic Jam Pilot. Just don’t be shocked if you don’t see anyone at the wheel keeping their eyes peeled for you.

Audi A7 Traffic Jam Pilot Exterior