There’s no doubt Audi impressed onlookers when they put their RS7 Piloted Driving Concept around the Hockenheim Ring with no driver at the helm, but the test showed little in the way of real world practicality. Audi needs to demonstrate the Piloted Driving Concept is capable of navigating traffic and other road hazards, along with stopping at intersections and following posted speed limits, so they’ve planned a 550 mile road trip for the car.
An A7 Piloted Driving concept will take journalists from the San Francisco Bay Area to Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015. As Cnet notes, Audi attempted a similar feat last year with their self-driving A7 and the systems failed, forcing the driver to take over. Audi says the sensors in the Piloted Driving Concept are now “production ready” and likely aren’t expecting a repeat of last year’s test.
Long-range sensors watch the front of the Piloted Driving Concept as it travels down the road, while two mid-range sensors at the front and rear, aimed left and right, provide horizontal coverage. There’s also laser scanners in the A7’s single frame grille and rear bumper skirt, along with a hi-resolution 3D camera, which takes a wide-angle view of the front of the vehicle. Four small front and rear mounted cameras are used to view objects close to the vehicle’s vicinity, and satellite navigation data is used for vehicle orientation. All the info gathered by the sensors and cameras is relayed to the vehicle’s computer, which adjusts its speed, braking acceleration and steering.
Before the journalists participating on the 550 mile trip reach a freeway, they will have to drive the car themselves. The Piloted Driving Concept is capable of working from 0-70 mph, however when the onboard systems tell the car it’s in an urban area, it will request the driver take over the controls. If they don’t the car will put its four-way emergency lights on and come to a complete stop at the side of the road.
The test of the Piloted Driving Concept is a precursor to Audi’s “Next Chapter” announcement at CES. The automaker says they will present “the technologies of today and the projects of tomorrow” at the trade show, many of which will focus on the “connected car”. Piloted driving, new user displays and interfaces, infotainment systems and other Audi connect solutions will be previewed, along with advancements in LED and matrix laser lighting. The technology-stuffed Audi Q7 SUV will also be on display at Audi’s booth, boasting the company’s new speaker and infotainment systems.