Driverless test drives in China

Greater safety, increased comfort, and improved traffic flow: Audi used test vehicles to demonstrate automated driving on public roads with V2X signals. C-V2X and 5G technologies are used in production vehicles in China.

01/21/2022 Reading Time: 4 min

Autonomously driving Audi overtaking a cyclist

The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

The shores of Tai Hu, China’s third largest freshwater lake, are bustling with activity. Well over six million people live and work in the up-and-coming metropolis of Wuxi, between an 88-meter-high Buddha statue, historic buildings, and numerous fine-dining restaurants. Among experts, however, Wuxi is also a synonym for IoT – the Internet of Things – and a model for smart cities. This is where Audi China is testing connected driving in conjunction with connected infrastructure. A few weeks ago, the brand with the four rings went one step further and sent a converted Audi Q8 out onto the road. This marked the world’s first demonstration of autonomous driving on public roads with V2X communication.

A milestone in road safety

V2X stands for “vehicle-to-everything.” V2X communication enables vehicles to connect directly with each other, with the surrounding infrastructure, and with other road users. This functionality is essential for highly and fully autonomous driving, particularly when it comes to road safety. For example, the vehicle brakes automatically in response to other vehicles and pedestrians that drivers do not see. In addition, it automatically avoids approaching emergency vehicles and uses the vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) “traffic light information” service.

Autonomous driving Audi approaching an intersection on a test drive

Tests in China a “one-of-a-kind opportunity”

“Audi has made a quantum leap forward with its IoV (Internet of Vehicles) technologies. Here in China, we have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to test these technologies on the road and present them to the public,” said Michael Hofmann, Audi China’s Executive Vice President R&D. “Not only are we testing Level 4 fully autonomous driving with V2X signals on public roads for the first time in the world, but we are also using IoV technology to actually input data into the vehicle’s autonomous driving system for the first time.”

Fewer accidents on foot and by bike the ultimate goal


Warning of pedestrians in the cockpit of an autonomously driving Audi test vehicle

At the World Internet of Things Exposition 2021 in Wuxi, Audi also presented its patented V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) and V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian) technologies, which are currently being tested for the first time along a 6.5-kilometer stretch of road. Thanks to V2P, vehicles are able to brake to avoid a collision with hidden pedestrians. Experts believe that technological advances will help reduce these kinds of accidents. Another patented V2P technology from Audi, for example, warns cyclists approaching the vehicle from behind. This can help prevent accidental collisions when opening the doors.

V2I provides information in real time

In China, Audi also presented other V2I technologies currently under development. Restricted access warnings allow drivers to intervene early to change their route and therefore help reduce traffic congestion. Another V2I-based warning alerts drivers of objects on the road, enabling them to take evasive action in a timely manner. The technology helps prevent accidents by providing real-time road condition and safety information to the vehicle.

5G-capable connectivity module used in production models

In the future, new production models for the Chinese market such as the Audi A7 L and Audi A6 L will have a wireless module on board that supports both 5G and C-V2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) technology, with additional models to follow. Features include the Audi Traffic Light Information (TLI) system as well as Audi Local Hazard Information (LHI) and Local Hazard Warning (LHW) functions.

New features: ideal speed to catch the “green wave”

Audi's traffic light information makes use of the Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory (GLOSA) and time-to-green functions. The technologies help make the ride as smooth as possible and save energy because drivers have to slow down and accelerate less. GLOSA also calculates the ideal speed to catch a “green wave” through the city. To avoid stop-and-go traffic, GLOSA suggests reducing speed about 250 meters before a traffic light to arrive at the intersection when the light turns green. If stopping at a red light is nevertheless unavoidable, the time-to-green function fades in a countdown displaying the remaining seconds until the next green phase.


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