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Driverless Audi RS7 laps Hockenheimring

Audi’s driverless RS7 cuts a perfect lap of the Hockenheimring at race speed


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21 Oct 2014

AUDI has showcased the development of its autonomous driving technology with a driverless RS7 Sportback completing a high-speed lap of Germany’s Hockenheimring race track.

Reaching speeds of 240km/h it took slightly longer than two minutes to complete a lap of track at the final round of the DTM German Touring Car championship on the weekend.

Audi said the “RS7 piloted driving concept” is almost identical to the regular 412kW/700Nm 4.0-litre V8-powered RS7, except for the on-board guidance technology and automatically controlled throttle, brakes, steering and eight-speed transmission.

Specially corrected GPS signals sent via Wi-Fi and radio frequency pinpoint the car’s orientation on the track, down to the centimeter.

At the same moment real-time footage of the surrounding landscape seen by the 3D cameras is compared to images in its database for additional positioning assistance.

The result was a well-executed lap, which saw the piloted driving concept blasting down the straights at full-throttle, braking hard before corners and powering out of turns perfectly.

Audi AG technical development board member Ulrich Hackenberg said the demonstration proved the abilities of the team and paved the way for future development.

“The top performance by the Audi RS7 today substantiates the skills of our development team with regard to piloted driving at Audi,” he said.

“The derivations from series production, particularly in terms of precision and performance, are of great value for our further development steps.”

While racetracks are far from real-world situations involving traffic and pedestrians, Audi sees it as a test bed for developing its automatic avoidance functions for emergency situations.

The Hockenheimring lap is the latest in a series of demonstrations by Audi of its autonomous driving technology which has seen a driverless TTS race on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States in 2009 and then take on Pike’s Peak circuit in 2010, followed by another TTS lapping Thunderhill Race Track in California in 2012.

In 2013 Audi became the first car-maker to receive a permit to operate driverless vehicles in public traffic in Nevada and this year it became the first to conduct highway testing in Florida, while most recently California granted permission for freeway trials, too.

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