Audi has announced that the State of Nevada has issued it a permit allowing the testing of autonomous vehicles on the state’s public roads. This is only the second permit that Nevada has given out, with the first one being given to Google. The new permit makes Audi the first automotive manufacturer to obtain this special permit.

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Just like Google, Audi has been at the forefront of autonomous driving research. Among the early highlights was the 2010 achievement of the Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak research car on the legendary Pikes Peak Hill Climb course in Colorado. That Audi research car autonomously completed the 156-turn, 12.42-mile Pikes Peak circuit in just 27 minutes.

Today, Audi defines autonomous driving capabilities in terms of piloted parking and piloted driving. The term “piloted” is used advisedly, as Audi envisions motorists enjoying the convenience of allowing the car to handle mundane stop-and-go driving conditions, for example, while still being able to take control of the car when needed. In this way, the technology is similar to auto-pilot systems found on jetliners. Likewise, autonomous, or piloted parking, would let future Audi models park safely without a driver at the wheel in in tight parking spaces.

Audi will provide updates on strategies involving its Audi piloted driving and piloted parking technologies this week at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

+ Audi