The Audi dynamic piloted driving program makes another leap forward demonstrating their RS 7 piloted driving prototype “Robby” can set faster lap times than many sport drivers at Sonoma Raceway. Demonstrating the system’s ability to consistently control braking, steering and acceleration to the point where the dynamic piloted driving controls set consistent lap times at one of the country’s most demanding road courses.
“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.
Last year the RS 7 prototype called “Bobby” set a world speed record of 149 mph at Hockenheimring race course in Germany. Robby is also a 560 horsepower RS 7, but Audi engineers reduced the weight by 882 pounds to make it faster and to more closely resemble the weight of a production RS 7.
Realizing that there are more than engineering hurdles to overcome when the topic of automated piloted driving is brought up, Audi invited U.S. political leaders and Silicon Valley innovators for the active demonstration at Sonoma Raceway. Law-makers and regulators from several states were given a front-seat view of the handling capabilities of Robby on the 2.5 road course.
“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 Lt. Gov. 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.”
Some of you may recall the real-world test when “Jack”, an Audi A7 piloted driving concept made the 560-mile hands-free trek from Palo Alto, California to Las Vegas, Nevada in time for the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Highway speeds around 70 mph and safe lane changes proved that existing camera and sensor technology can perform safely, without incident.
Audi understands introducing their piloted driving program to the public must be done in incremental steps. Thus, Audi’s next step is to release their Traffic Jam Pilot System in the next-generation A8. This system will handle driving tasks in congested highway traffic up to 37 mph. The goal of predictive technology is to adapt driving to be more efficient, reduce stress, and increase comfort.
In this TFL Car mashup, Roman, Nathan and Motoman debate the finer points as to which car to buy–Bentley Continental GT Speed vs Audi A8 vs Lexus LS460: