Audi Piloted connected carAudi has become the world’s first company to receive a permit to test autonomous cars on Californian roads, in what is seen as a major high-tech PR coup for the firm.

The firm can, from now, carry out the same autonomous driving tests it’s ran over tens of thousands of miles in Europe and other US states – on any state road in California.

Audi Piloted driving testing in California will be particularly advantageous because it’s where the firm’s Electronics Research Lab, or ERL, is located. This is where advanced autonomous driving issues are being solved – such as, says Audi, how the car’s HMI indicates whether the human or the car is doing the driving.

California is, of course, also home to Silicon Valley and it’s some of the cutting-edge high-tech gadgetry developed there that will make the self-driving car a reality. The Audi first will be seen as a major step forward for the brand whose tagline is Vorsprung durch Technik.

“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.”

California technically hasn’t ruled out self-driving cars in the past, however – it’s just that there was no specific legislation saying they couldn’t be run… official thus decided something a little more official was necessary. The latest legislation formalises guidelines for testing, including surety bond coverage of at least $5 million – and that’s for every autonomous car undergoing testing.

However, although Audi has claimed the first Californian autonomous driving licence landmark, it won’t be the only company testing self-driving cars in California: Mercedes-Benz and Google later also received licences…