Audi wants to develop its self-driving car programme

Audi wants to develop its self-driving car programme

German luxury car manufacturer Audi has recently announced that it has become the first company to obtain a Californian permit to test self-driving cars on the state's public highways.  Audi is just one of a large number of car makers that are testing the technology and many, including Toyota, Ford, Mercedes and Nissan, firmly believe that they will have vehicles on the road by 2020.

In a statement about the new development, Audi of America president Scott Keogh said: "Audi is a driving force behind the research taking automated driving from science fiction to pre-production readiness. Obtaining the first permit issued by the state of California shows that we intend to remain the leader in this vital technology frontier."

A study by IHS Automotive claims that there will be 230,000 self-driving cars on the roads as early as 2025 and that this figure could increase to 11.8 million over the following decade.

At present California is one of only four US states that issue permits to allow testing on public roads; the other states are Nevada, Michigan and Florida.

There is a big price to pay by car manufacturers that want to be at the forefront of this new type of vehicle, which starts with the outlay of a $5m bond to cover accident claims.  Companies must also test the self-driving car thoroughly in a simulated environment before driving it on a public highway.

Audi has already formulated plans to test a prototype autonomous A7 in the San Francisco area.