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Audi first to get California's new self-driving car permit

Google, Mercedes-Benz also can now legally test autonomous technology on state roads.

By Douglas Newcomb Thu 11:17 AM

Photo by Audi.When Google first revealed in 2010 that it had logged over 140,000 miles on California roads testing its autonomous cars, the state didn't have laws governing the technology. Since then, California has moved -- although much more slowly than the technology -- to permit the limited use of roads within the state for autonomous-car testing.

The state passed a law allowing testing of driverless cars in 2012, but it didn't take effect until this week. Audi was the first automaker to get a permit from California on Tuesday, followed by Mercedes-Benz and Google. In all, California issued permits on Tuesday for 29 vehicles from the three companies; Google has 25 self-driving vehicles, while Mercedes and Audi each have two.

The permits allow the companies to test their self-driving technology on highways and on surface streets with a human "safety driver" at the wheel as a backup to a car's automated controls. The permit also requires driver training, that companies report any incidents, and that they carry at least $5 million in insurance on each licensed test car.

"California roads are especially crucial to Audi Piloted driving testing because the state is home to the brand's Electronics Research Lab," Audi said a statement. "ERL engineers are working on a wide range of automated driving issues, including human-machine interface prompts that indicate when the human or the vehicle are handling driving functions."

And now they can do it legally.

[Sources: USA Today, CNBC]



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