Published on January 5th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
An Autonomous Audi A7
Road trips are common in many cultures around the world: driving great distances to see great things, and having fun along the way. With the Consumer Electronics Show currently underway in Las Vegas, thousands are flocking to see what these new vendors have to offer. Audi is sending 7 journalists from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas- the distance between the two is over 550 miles, or 900 kilometers or so. The twist? This trip is nearly entirely autonomous, undertaken by a specially developed automated (or piloted) A7.
The A7 piloted driving concept utilizes the latest technologically advanced systems developed by Audi. The concept relieves the driver of driving duties from 0 to 70 mph, or just over 110 km/h. The car, that has been affectionately been named “Jack” by the development team, can initiate lane changes and passing maneuvers. In addition, the A7 piloted driving concept accelerates and brakes independently. Before initiating a lane change to the left or the right, 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.
The piloted concept vehicle utilizes a combination of various sensors, many of which are close to production ready. The long range radar sensors of the adaptive cruise control (ACC) and the Audi side assist (ASA) keep watch of the front and rear of the vehicle. Two mid-range radar sensors at the front and rear respectively are aimed to the right and left to complete the 360 degree view. Laser scanners are mounted within the Singleframe grille and the rear bumper skirt. The scanners deliver redundant information to provide detailed recognition of static and dynamic objects during piloted driving. The technologies are production ready including their vehicle integration and cost structure for vehicle production in the near future. A new hi-resolution 3D video camera, already integrated into the next generation systems found in the new Q7, takes a wide-angle view out in front of the vehicle. Four small front and rear mounted cameras view closer surroundings. Navigation data is used for basic vehicle orientation.
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 in order to tell the driver it’s time to take the wheel again. Should the driver ignore the signals, the system activates the hazard lights and brings the car to a full stop while minimizing any risk. In most instances the vehicle is stopped in the emergency lane.
While Audi has developed their autonomous RS7 Sportback race car and there are numerous automated car projects around the world, this would make Audi one of the first manufacturers to put their cars into a long, real-world test.