Audi is continually advancing the development of its piloted driving test car. “Jack” – the internal nickname for the Audi A7 piloted driving concept technology platform – is now driving more naturally. This is illustrated by the way it confidently deals with hazardous points on the road. “Jack” now passes trucks with a slightly wider lateral gap. It also signals upcoming lane changes by activating the turn signal and moving closer to the lane marking first – just like human drivers would do to indicate their intentions.
The cooperative attitude of “Jack” is especially apparent when other vehicles want to merge into the lane, such as on an expressway. Here the test car decides – based on the selected driving profile – whether to accelerate or brake, depending on which is best suited to handling the traffic situation harmoniously for all road users. Another new feature: Upon request, the navigation system can compute a route with the largest proportion of piloted driving sections.
The super brain of piloted driving is the central driver assistance controller, or zFAS. It uses state-of-the-art, high-performance processors to evaluate the signals from all sensors in real-time and create a model of the car’s surroundings. This model represents the prevailing traffic situation as accurately as possible. It lets the zFAS calculate upcoming maneuvers in advance, taking a look into the future, so to speak.
Audi continues to document its progress in piloted driving with spectacular events. In the United States, for instance, a driverless Audi TTS etched the brand’s four rings trademark into the surface of a salt flat and also conquered the legendary hill climb up Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains without a driver. At the Hockenheim Motodrome, a driverless Audi RS 7 Sportback chased down the limits of driving physics in fall 2014. Since then, Audi has been demonstrating the next steps in piloted driving on public roads too, for example under real traffic conditions on American highways from the west coast to Las Vegas.