Audi Tests Driverless-Car Technology on the RS7 Sportback
In its effort to bring autonomous-driving technology to the streets, Volkswagen AG’s subsidiary Audi is testing unmanned vehicles at speeds as fast as 305 kilometers (190 miles) per hour. The company may not be the only one to test this technology but it is certainly the fastest one.
Audi has fitted RS7 Sportback with steering, brakes, throttle and transmission hooked up to a computer system that combines GPS, high-frequency radio signals and 3D imaging camera to drive the vehicle autonomously not just in slow-paced, stop-and-go traffic, but around the track at the same pace a professional racing driver would push it: full throttle, full braking before the corner and 1.1-g of cornering force.
The prototype looks pretty much like a production version RS 7, except its steering wheel, brakes, throttle valve and other components are all controlled by a self-driving system. “The map in the car just contains the left and right boundaries of the track,” Peter Bergmiller, an Audi technician, said during a test on a track in Oschersleben. “The car starts to think about it and generates its optimal line,” he added.
Automakers from Mercedes-Benz to Tesla Motors Inc. are developing systems to ease the strain of driving by letting cars park themselves and even take over the wheel in stop-and-go traffic. By showing that computers are able to push cars to their limits on race tracks, Audi aims to convince regulators that the technology can be safe in the real world too.