SOURCE: Audi of America

Audi of America

July 13, 2015 10:18 ET

Audi Extends Dynamic Piloted Driving Lead at Sonoma Raceway as Production Nears

SONOMA, CA--(Marketwired - Jul 13, 2015) -

  • Audi RS 7 piloted driving prototype "Robby" tested at limits of speed and handling to prove technology's future capabilities in highway driving
  • Audi reveals piloted driving roadmap to U.S. political leaders and Silicon Valley innovators
  • Audi Traffic Jam Pilot technology will appear first in next-generation Audi A8

Piloted driving at Audi achieves new levels of racing speed on the road to series production of the technology in a few years. On one of the most demanding circuits in the world, Sonoma Raceway in California, the latest generation of the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept has exceeded the previous top performances again. Audi will offer piloted driving first in the next generation of the Audi A8.

The newest Audi RS 7 piloted driving prototypes tested in Sonoma is nicknamed "Robby" because of its direct lineage to the RS 7 prototype called "Bobby," which set the world speed record of 149 mph last year at the famed Hockenheimring race course in Germany. The technology enabling piloted driving is similar for both cars, as is its rating of 560 horsepower. But Audi engineers reduced Robby's weight by 882 pounds to make it faster and bring it closer to the weight of a series production RS 7 sold today.

Whether during braking, steering or accelerating: The piloted driving car controls all tractor functions completely automated and achieves high accuracy on each lap.

"In Sonoma we brought the Audi RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept lap after lap to the physical limit, and in constant precision," said Thomas Müller, Head of Development for Braking, Steering and Driver Assistance Systems, AUDI AG. "The car reached lap times that were better than those of some experienced sport riders." The RS 7 prototype required only 2:01.01 minutes to set its best lap time at the 2.5-mile course.

Because of the advanced nature of this technology, Audi gave a front-seat view of the handling capability of Robby to lawmakers and regulators from several states.

"We're already experiencing some of the future's promises because the underlying technology being pioneered by companies like Audi offers an opportunity to reduce road fatalities and pollution," said California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. "Innovation runs deep in California's DNA and it is critical that lawmakers here help foster a climate where private enterprise can improve, advance and mainstream a societal benefit, as the Internet and smart phone has done before them."

"We were able to be a part of Audi's testing at the extreme limits of piloted drive technology," said Florida State Sen. Jeff Brandes. "However this is really more about enhancing safe mobility for the driving public, particularly seniors."

For some time, Audi has been testing piloted driving technology under increasingly rigorous conditions. However the aim isn't to replicate dramatic showcases. Instead, Audi believes the technology must perform consistently when extreme handling becomes necessary in everyday drives of the future.

In this way, the driving dynamics capabilities proven by "Robby" and "Bobby" will combine with Audi piloted driving systems under development to provide true 360-degree sensor vision around the car as it is driving. This provides an always-on view of the road environment.

Audi demonstrated this real-world highway capability earlier this year with "Jack," an Audi A7 piloted driving concept that utilized many production-based camera and sensor solutions from Silicon Valley. The 560-plus mile hands-free test drive that Jack took from Palo Alto, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, ahead of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) involved journalists behind the wheel and prove the technology could handle full highway speeds and safe lane changes on the Interstate at speeds around 70 mph.

Shortly after that this car was also on German motorways independently with up to 80 mph. Also at CES Asia in May 2015 journalists experienced piloted driving amid the heavy traffic conditions of the megacity Shanghai.

The development work on the most diverse testing fields brings valuable insights for series systems -- from the sensor technology of the data processing to vehicle control and stabilization. Audi has long emphasized that piloted driving systems will reach consumers in a step-by-step manner. The first of these highly automated systems will come with the next-generation A8 Traffic Jam Pilot System, which will handle driving tasks in congested highway traffic up to 37 mph.

The technologies for piloted driving stand for safety, time savings, efficiency and convenience. In particular, if the driver faces conditions presenting too many or too few challenges, piloted systems can make a valuable contribution to security. They allow the driver to make his time in the car freely adaptable. The predictive technology enables even more efficient driving, reduces stress and increases comfort when it takes over the driving task.

ABOUT AUDI
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. The Audi Group delivered over 1,741,000 vehicles to customers globally in 2014, and broke all-time company sales records for the 5th straight year in the U.S. Through 2019, AUDI AG plans to invest about 24 billion euros - 70 percent of the investment will flow into the development of new models and technologies. Visit www.audiusa.com or www.audiusa.com/newsroom for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.