Audi, as promised, has showcased its semi-autonomous A7 by having it self drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas, for the Consumer Electronics Show. A total mileage trip of 560, impressive to say the least.
The maiden voyage was not without company though. The car was filled with selected journalists who each were allowed a 100 mile stint at the wheel of the piloted driving A7. As to abide by Californian state laws, sitting in the passenger seat was an experienced Audi test driver who carefully watched over to ensure the drive went as smoothly as both hoped and anticipated.
The Audi A7 3.0 TFSI quattro piloted driving concept’s first long-haul journey also marked a record for Audi. This was their first time sending out a vehicle on such a lengthy excursion and in ‘real’ conditions.
Other cars on the road that were not associated with the project were maneuvered and speeds up to 70 mph were successfully achieved. These are the kinds of strenuous tests that an autonomous car will have to deal with once they eventually hit the roads.
Sensors are seemingly the A7’s road to successful piloted driving. With 360 degree vision, alongside lasers in the front grille and rear bumper, the car is constantly measuring and calculating possibilities and solutions. The car is able to autonomously overtake when it deems it safe to do so, accelerating and braking accordingly, with indications too.
The driver takes control once the more difficult driving conditions arise. City navigating is left to the driver who is summoned to take control of the car by colored LEDs mounted on the bottom of the windshield, signals in the driver information display, a Central Status Indicator, as well as an acoustic warning indicator.
The car itself surpassed expectations and results gathered will be put towards the future of Audi’s autonomous driving. Speaking before the test drive on January 4th, Professor. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi Board Member and Head of Technical Development said:
“The test drive from the west coast of California to Las Vegas demonstrates our leadership role in piloted driving.
… The test drive in real world traffic and road conditions represents a joint effort by the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) and Volkswagen Group Research and Development, begins today in Stanford, Calif.”
After the test, the tone was much as expected from Hackenberg, this time with the praise and thanks to the Audi engineers, VW Group R&D and the Electronics Research Laboratory.
“The results of the test drive underscore our piloted driving competency”.
With the success of the A7 bound to raise expectations of Audi, it must be considered that the automaker is now a serious contender in the chase for autonomous completion. Audi is currently exhibiting the A7 with its piloted driving at CES. An interior show of the Q7 is also expected.