Last year, during a ride in Audi’s self-driving car, the system failed on the freeway and the driver had to take over. After a year of development, Audi must have fixed all the glitches. Audi is now sending an A7 fitted with its self-driving gear on a two day road trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Las Vegas, and the 2015 International CES. A total of 550 miles (give or take a few).
Audi calls their self-driving technology “Piloted Driving,” and they have been showing great advancement with the technology. Now they claim that the sensors in the car are now “production ready.”
This A7 comes with Audi’s long-range forward facing radar. This system is currently used for adaptive cruise control but also features two rear facing and two side facing sensors. A laser scanner behind the grille serves as an extra sensor to help the radar with object detection. A 3D camera also looks forward while four other cameras check the front and back views from all corners of the car.
All of this information from these sensors along with the car’s GPS location are sent to the onboard computer which can and will control braking, acceleration and steering.
Audi states that the system will work from 0-70 mph. When the car approaches an urban area it will alert the driver to take over control. If the driver does not take over the car will turn on its flashers and pull over along the shoulder. While the A7 is in control, it is capable of its own lane changes and passes.
One of the biggest challenges for the A7 road trip will be the condition of lane lines. The lane lines is what the car uses to help guide its path. If the lane lines disappear due to road construction or weather the car will need to go by its GPS other traffic around it to keep it in the correct lane.
The urban limitation suggests that Audi is not comfortable with the system enough for the numerous obstacles and threats of city driving. However, if everything works as it should, it could easily be a feature available on production cars within a very few years, helping drivers make long freeway trips.
To follow the Audi A7’s progress check out @Audi and the hashtag #DrivingNotDriving on Twitter.