Following an epic 560-mile journey – much of it driven ‘on autopilot’ – the Audi A7 Sportback piloted driving concept has arrived in Las Vegas to take its rightful place as one of the stars of the Consumer Electronics Show (January 6-9 2015).
Starting very appropriately in California’s famous Silicon Valley, the Audi A7 3.0 TFSI quattro piloted driving concept’s long-haul test drive was witnessed – mostly hands-free – by members of the media. It proved itself capable of providing a comfortable drive in real world, everyday driving situations, particularly in the kind of traffic that customers encounter on a daily basis.
“The results of the test drive underscore our piloted driving competency”, said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi Board Member for Technical Development. “I’d like to thank the team of Audi engineers, VW Group R&D and the Electronics Research Laboratory for making it such a great success.”
The test drive resulted in actionable data to help further development of Audi piloted driving. It involved the longest drive undertaken so far by Audi at full road speeds with members of the public behind the wheel, each of whom was able to experience piloted driving in 100 mile stints in various traffic situations on public highways.
In total, the drive was 560 miles long and, as required by State laws in California, was accompanied by an experienced Audi test driver who monitored proceedings from the passenger seat.
Objects scanned by laser
The concept vehicle utilises various production-ready sensors as well as sensors integrated into production vehicles today that accurately detect the vehicle’s surroundings. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) and Audi side assist (ASA) long-range radar sensors as well as mid-range radar sensors at the front and the rear of the vehicle that are directed to the left and right provide a 360 degree view of its environment. Laser scanners are integrated into the front Singleframe grille and the rear bumper to provide additional detailed recognition of static or dynamic objects.
The validity of the sensor data is assured by a continuous plausibility check during piloted driving to ensure the correct decisions are being made by the vehicle and the driver. Four smaller cameras at the front and rear of the vehicle provide short-range information about the surrounding environment. The high-resolution, wide-angle 3D video camera, which will first see production in the new Audi Q7, observes the traffic surrounding the vehicle. The sensor it utilises meets all the requirements necessary for inclusion into future products and is close to reaching production.
The concept relieves the driver of driving duties at speeds of up to 70 mph. The car can initiate lane changes and passing manoeuvres as well as accelerate and brake independently. Before initiating a lane change to the left or the right (on US highways), the vehicle adapts its speed to surrounding vehicles. If the speed and distance calculation is deemed safe, the vehicle initiates the lane change with precision and in a timely manner.
Before the piloted driving system reaches its limitations, in city environments for example, the driver is requested to take control of the vehicle to ensure proper safety. Multiple warning signals work in unison: coloured LEDs at the base of the windscreen, signals in the driver information display, a Central Status Indicator (CSI) and an acoustic warning indicator alert the driver when he or she is required to retake control.
Audi will present its “Next Chapter” at CES from today through to the 9thof January, 2015 in Las Vegas. The technologies of today and the projects of tomorrow will be presented at one of the most relevant, trendsetting electronic trade shows in the world. A multitude of technologies and two world premieres including the interior model of the new Q7 and another concept car will demonstrate the technological competencies of Audi. Primary topics will include new user and display interfaces, modern infotainment and new Audi connect solutions, as well as LED and laser-matrix lighting technologies. These and additional highlights of piloted driving will be shown. At the centre of all of these topics is the car and its communication with its surroundings.
Audi MediaTV is broadcasting live from the International CES 2015 and will be covering the Audi Press Conference on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 from 7.00 p.m GMT (11.00 am Pacific Standard Time). Videos of the various stages of the A7 piloted driving concept’s journey can also be viewed here.