Monday, October 20, 2014
Audi RS7 Piloted Driving Concept Completes Driverless Lap at Hockenheim
Yesterday, a monumental display in 21st century automobile technology proceeded under the presence of a large motorsports crowd. As the content of a previous article on Car FYI announced, a special Audi RS7 concept car lapped Germany's famed Hockenheimring lacking one detail typically associated with lapping vehicles; a driver.
Taking part ahead of the main race for the 2014 DTM series finale at the world famous race track, An exhibit of computer-controlled autonomous driving provided by Audi was placed behind the starting line of the Hockenheimring. Driven into the P1 starting spot by a human, the doors of the vehicle opened to a small reception of press and other Audi-related personnel. Preparations for the live display Piloted Driving has arrived to an ambitious live display. While Audi previously tested the RS7 Piloted Driving concept car leading up to the one-lap performance on Sunday, the perceived freshness of the technology could have left the window open to any varieties of snafus. On the other hand, a successful effort would prove to audiences in 2014 what endurance runs of early automobiles demonstrated in the early 20th century.
In position, the driverless car sat empty ahead of its cue to start its lap. One of two Audi RS7 Piloted Driving concept cars in existence, the car entrusted to take the 4.574-kilometer lap around the Hockenheim Grand Prix was named "Bobby" (the second car is recognized as A.J.). As a green flag flew, Bobby's Piloted Driving system was engaged launching the 560-horsepower RS7 Sportback. Under guidance of its GPS data transmitted over wireless communications and 3D cameras, the Audi RS7 Piloted Driving concept car navigated the race track. Lacking a driver, top speeds of 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) was estimated for over the course of the lap. Dealing with each of the 16 corners of the race course, Audi's Piloted Driving one-lap demonstration ended as a textbook success. In fact, the autonomously-driven vehicle appeared to handle Hockenheim with the ease that many humans enjoy a Sunday drive.
Audi had estimated the lap time of the RS7 Piloted Driving Concept at as little as 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Launching from a standing start, the single lap attempted by the Audi Piloted Driving system took roughly 2 and a half minutes around the Hockenheimring (according to my measurement of the web video). Average speed on the car's single lap is appraised at around 109.77 kilometers per hour (68.2 miles per hour). The time was a full minute slower than the DTM competitors in Saturday qualifying but those vehicles are race-purpose machines.
About the only hiccup related to the Piloted Driving exhibit was problems related to Audi's online live streaming. Whether it was a basic technical difficulties or perhaps the influx of viewers at the time of the demonstration, the virtual viewing world missed out on the live experience of the RS7 Piloted Driving lapping at the Hockenheimring. For those who missed it live(including myself) or just missed the demonstration, Audi has prepared the following video documenting the full event: