Audi has been pioneering autonomous technology for years with numerous prototypes and now the German automaker has announced plans to launch its first self-driving car.
In a statement Audi has said it, “will be offering piloted driving for the first time in the upcoming generation of the Audi A8.”
Piloted Driving is Audi-speak for the German automaker’s suite of technologies that will control the vehicle in certain situations.
It’s not clear exactly how far the self-driving technology will have evolved once the next Audi A8 arrives (or even when the new A8 will arrive), but Audi is currently working on two key innovations.
The first is a parking pilot system that rivals BMW and Mercedes are already planing to offer, allowing the driver to park the vehicle from outside it, using either the key fob or a smartphone app. The second, and more exciting technology, has been dubbed “traffic jam pilot.”
For almost a decade now luxury automakers have offered radar based cruise control that can operate the vehicle in stop-and-go traffic. Audi, however, will add to this with steering, enabling the car to steer itself at speeds up to 37.3 mph (60 km/h).
Audi recently tested this technology on an A7 prototype, driving 550 miles from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas without any driver intervention.
And to show that its piloted driving technology can react quickly, Audi just completed testing at the Sonoma Raceway in California where a specially outfitted RS7 lapped the track at speed, putting down an impressive 2:01.01 lap time.
“In Sonoma, we took the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept to its physical limits lap after lap, and it handled the task with uniform precision,” says Thomas Müller, the man responsible for much of the piloted driving technologies in the RS7. “The car turned in lap times that were better than those of sports car drivers.”
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