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Virginia lawmakers boldly cruise along I-64 in driverless car

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Audi gave Virginia lawmakers a test-ride of a state of the art, driverless car on a Richmond interstate Thursday morning.

Several legislators, including House Transportation Committee Chairman Rob Villanueva (R) test-rode prototype Audi A7, nicknamed “Jack,” on I-64.

“In order for everyone to understand autonomous vehicles we need to make sure we take steps toward that technology," Villanueva said.

Virginia currently has no laws regarding driverless cars. However, Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) introduced HB-1372 that would define “autonomous vehicles” and “piloted vehicles” and is currently in discussion in the transportation committee.

While the technology won’t be available to consumers for another three to five years, Director of Audi Government Affairs Bard Sterz said their goal was to demonstrate how accessible autonomous diving can be for consumers and to demystify the technology.

Chesterfield Delegate Roxann Robinson (R) also bravely rode in the prototype.

“It was pretty amazing the fact you’re on Interstate 64, you’re in a car and all of a sudden the driver lets go of the wheel," he commented.

Audi wouldn’t comment on the cost of a self-driving car once on the market, but said the technology could be available as soon as 2019. With the technology, Audi said the goal is to reduce traffic accidents, about 93 percent of which are caused by human error.

The prototype made a 560-mile drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas last year.

Some features are already being integrated into a number of high-end car models. But most automated driving tests have been conducted on test tracks or in short bursts on city streets. Delphi hopes its cross country trip will allow it to gather far more data than those previous tests.