CES 2015: Audi Showcases Piloted Driving By Sending A7 Autonomous Prototype From Silicon Valley To Las Vegas

Back in September, Volkswagen’s luxury arm Audi became the first automaker in the world to obtain an official permit from the state of California to allow it to test and refine its Piloted Driving technology on California’s busy roads.

Audi has just conducted a 560-mile demonstration of its Piloted Driving technology

Audi has just conducted a 560-mile demonstration of its Piloted Driving technology

At the start of the week, it showcased how advanced that technology was by sending one of its Audi A7 Piloted Driving concept cars on a 560-mile journey from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas, Nevada, accompanied by a select band of tech and automotive journalists heading to the Las Vegas-held 2015 Consumer Electronics Show.

Overall, each journalist was given around 100 miles behind the wheel, giving them a chance to experience Audi’s semi-autonomous Piloted Driving technology for themselves. Although there was a trained Audi test-driver in the front passenger seat at all times — required under Californian autonomous-vehicle law — Audi says the road trip represents the longest Piloted-Driving test it has ever conducted at full highway speeds with members of the public behind the wheel.

The demonstration is the latest in a long-line of impressive autonomous — or Piloted Driving — demonstrations from Audi. Last year, Audi demonstrated its A7 Piloted Driving concept car in Florida, successfully navigating a busy rush-hour with stop-start traffic. The towards the end of the year, it sent a fully-autonomous RS7 race car around the Hockenheim ring with absolutely no one inside.

Audi's A7 Sportback Piloted Driving Concept still requires a driver -- but it's impressive stuff.

Audi’s A7 Sportback Piloted Driving Concept still requires a driver — but it’s impressive stuff.

Unlike that particular demonstration, which required a lot of preparation and pre-programming from Audi’s technicians to ensure the RS7 knew exactly where it was on the race track at all times, this week’s demonstration focused not on fully automated driving but more on the autopilot potential for Audi’s technology.

This includes features like adaptive cruise control, Audi side assist and the ability to change lanes when safe.

As Audi detailed at CES following the vehicle’s arrival, the technology used to give the Audi A7 Piloted Driving prototype its self-driving capabilities utilises a mixture of production-ready sensors as well as a slew of sensors already included in many Audi vehicles. While Audi is careful not to set a production timescale for its Piloted Drive technology, it is keen to note that the sensors used in its prototype are “close to production and meet financial targets for inclusion into future products.”

These sensors include long-range and mid-range radar sensors at the front and rear of the vehicle, as well as a laser scanner integrated into the front grille, four small cameras located around the car’s exterior and a high-resolution, wide-angle 3D video camera at the front of the vehicle. Combined, they are capable of collecting visual and non-visual data allowing the car’s on-board computer to ‘see’ a full 360 degrees around itself, allowing it to recognise hazards, react to other traffic and keep its occupants safe.

Audi's A7 Piloted Drive concept managed the 560 mile drive between Silicon Valley and Las Vegas without incident.

Audi’s A7 Piloted Drive concept managed the 560 mile drive between Silicon Valley and Las Vegas without incident.

But while the Audi Piloted Driving system has shown itself to be more than capable on the freeway, operating at speeds of up to 70 mph with ease, Audi says its Piloted Driving system isn’t designed for city centres. When driving through city environments, Audi’s system Piloted Driving system prompts the driver to take control of the vehicle but continues to process information from all of its sensors, alerting the driver to any dangers or changes in traffic patterns via visual and auditory warnings.

Do you look forward to Audi’s upcoming autonomous Piloted Driving system? Would you trust it to keep you safe on the road? Or do you prefer to retain control of your car yourself?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

————————————

Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

______________________________________

Want to keep up with the latest news in evolving transport? Don’t forget to follow Transport Evolved on Twitter, like us on Facebook and G+, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInDigg thisShare on RedditEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest

Related News

  • Kenneth_Brown

    Nikki, One of your statements doesn’t answer the question of whether Audi surveyed the route before the drive or if the cars performed all of the navigation in real time.nnnStandard GPS is usually only accurate to 3m at best and updates at a relatively slow rate compared to the distance a vehicle will travel at highway speeds. There are technologies such as Differential GPS (DGPS), but those take special hardware along the route that have been surveyed for very high locational accuracy and the receiver in the vehicle would be very expensive as well. There is also the problem of purposeful inaccuracy being introduced into the GPS system due to a national security emergency. We can’t forget that GPS is a military system. In an application where we need to have cm accuracy, GPS won’t work. nnnWhen self-driving cars to become a reality, they will have to function without any reliance on a person being available to take control. As soon as people become used to them, they are going to be taking naps, texting, updating their farcebook pages, generally not paying attention and unable to grasp the immediate situation if the car alerts them to a serious problem. Count on it. Many lessons on what assumptions were made without realizing are going to be written in blood. This may also be a big concern for insurance companies that will be hesitant if not down right opposed to writing policies for self driving cars. nnnI covered the DARPA Grand Challenge and the DARPA Urban Challenge as a journalist and spoke with most of the teams about the issues they had tried to solve. I came away with the profound respect for how flexible the human brain is. Getting a vehicle to cope with driving challenges that we handle every day without much thought is incredibly difficult to program a computer to properly evaluate and act on.