It is not at all uncommon to see words like “revolutionary” or “groundbreaking” being used in the automotive industry. But rarely do these words fit so aptly as when they are used to describe piloted driving. Audi has set out to fundamentally change the way we operate our cars. And to improve it. The efforts focus on the intelligence of the technology and the decisions of the driver.
550 mile piloted drive: from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas
After 550 miles on the road, the Audi A7 piloted driving concept fascinates while reaching its goal Las Vegas. “Jack” was able to completely convince the journalists with its autonomous driving mode.
Like an invisible passenger: The technology thinks with you.
Our ability to enjoy deciding for ourselves on the road becomes less enjoyable when we are weaving through heavy traffic and the constant stop-and-go demands our full attention. Making decisions can be tiring. And how many of us have never made a wrong decision while on the road?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hand over responsibility, together with the stress of everyday traffic, to a system that works perfectly? To a pilot much like the autopilots that operate at 10,000 metres altitude, never get tired, never get distracted or bored and always make exactly the right decision? What a load that would take off our minds!
From the race track to volume production: Everything is in place.
This is difficult to answer theoretically. And this is why Audi is working intensively to enable the vision of piloted driving to become reality. The company has been performing tests for a full 15 years at various locations, including on the race track, the toughest test laboratory. Assistance systems like adaptive cruise control, active lane assist and others form the cornerstone and have long proven themselves in volume production. In the USA, in Nevada and Florida, Audi was the first and is still the only carmaker to carry out test drives under real-world conditions – the potential of the technology has been verified multiple times.
Fascinating performance: the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept at the Hockenheimring
At the DTM season finale, Audi demonstrated the sheer fascination of piloted driving. The Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept completed a lap on the Grand Prix track in Hockenheim – at racing speed, without a driver. “The top performance by the Audi RS 7 today substantiates the skills of our development team with regard to piloted driving at Audi,” said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG. “The derivations from series production, particularly in terms of precision and performance, are of great value for our further development steps.”
Progress shows the pros outweigh the cons.
It is already possible to connect the complex technologies of piloted driving so efficiently and intelligently that they take up hardly any space in the car, add hardly any extra weight and use hardly any extra energy. On the contrary. Piloted driving will help relieve the strain of driving and provide greater safety in road traffic while also solving infrastructural traffic problems. Traffic jams can be made a thing of the past by synchronising driver data and ensuring a continuous connection in piloted cars with each other and with their surroundings. And smooth-flowing traffic also means less environmental impact. A win-win situation.
The start of a new era: Audi piloted driving
It might sound futuristic, but it’s already at the starting gates. For Audi, piloted driving is one of the top drivers of innovation in the coming years and is a logical, evolutionary step in the development of the car. It's an evolution that has the potential to revolutionise the experience of driving a car. And one thing is certain: If it is up to Audi’s engineers, the feeling of freedom and the fun of sporty driving will be maintained – because there is a choice. Piloted driving is not a “must”, but rather something you “can” select. Audi will never build robot cars, but instead will always put the driver in the focus of its decisions.
“Vorsprung” – a head start – is not something you start out having, it’s something you must develop. We will live to see cars that drive automatically, that much is certain. And looked at the right way, we should be looking forward to it.