Audi will be debuting its RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept under what may arguably be one of the most challenging conditions possible. In its effort to bring self-driving vehicles to the streets, the car manufacturer is hitting the race track to see just how its unmanned vehicles stack up against human drivers.
The driverless car will lap the Hockenheim track on October 17th and 19th at racing speeds ranging from 149 to 189.5 miles per hour. With 560PS (552hp), the Piloted Driving Concept is not your average autonomous car. According to the car manufacturer, the prototype is quite similar to the production model with the exception of its electromechanical power steering, brakes, throttle valve and eight-speed Tiptronic transmission being controlled automatically.
“We’re going into the curves, the cornering, just like a professional race driver. So for example, we have lateral accelerations of more than 1g,” Audi says in its promo video.
How will the vehicle stay on the track? The technology platform is equipped with specially-corrected GPS signals for orientation — these differential GPS data are accurate down to a centimeter and transmitted to the vehicle via WLAN. In addition, 3D camera images are compared in real-time against graphical information stored onboard. The system searches in each of the countless individual images for several hundred known features, such as building patterns behind the track, which it then uses as additional positioning information.
“The car is really able to cope with situations it was not directly taught. It handles unexpected things very well,” an Audi rep explained.
As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, forecasts are calling for 94.7 million vehicles equipped with self-driving capabilities to be sold annually around the world by 2035. Moreover, Gartner believes autonomous vehicles are set to disrupt the business dynamics of at least one-third of the industries in the developed world. From Mercedes and GM to Tesla and Google, a number of companies are already in the process of developing autonomous vehicles that will do everything from park themselves to take over the driver’s seat in traffic.