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Audi's 885km automated test drive

In a bid to showcase its Audi A7 piloted driving concept car, the OEM is taking journalists from California to Las Vegas

 

In a bid to demonstrate the virtues of automated driving, Audi has launched a piloted drive for journalists which will take in more than 885km (550 miles). The long-distance test of the Audi A7 piloted driving concept car will aim to demonstrate the potential of series potential technology, and will depart from Silicon Valley in California. The voyage will conclude in Las Vegas, Nevada at the International CES 2015.

"The test drive from the west coast of California to Las Vegas demonstrates our leadership role in
piloted driving,” says Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi board member and head of technical development.

The journey, the result of a joint effort by the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) and Volkswagen Group Research and Development, set off on January 5th from Stanford in California, and will be undertaken in real world traffic and road conditions.

The A7 piloted driving concept relieves the driver of driving duties from 0-110km/h. The car, affectionately named Jack by the development team, can initiate lane changes and passing maneuvers, and accelerates and brakes independently. Before initiating a lane change to the left or the right, the vehicle adapts its speed to surrounding vehicles. If the vehicle's systems deem the speed and distance calculation to be safe, a line change is initiated.

A combination of sensors, many of which are close to production ready, are used in the vehicle's systems. The long-range radar sensors of the adaptive cruise control (ACC) and the Audi side assist (ASA) keep watch of the front and rear of the vehicle. Two mid-range radar sensors at the front and rear respectively are aimed to the right and left to complete the 360° view. Laser scanners are mounted within the grille and the rear bumper skirt, and deliver redundant information to provide detailed recognition of static and dynamic objects during piloted driving.

A high-resolution 3D video camera, already integrated into the next-generation systems found in the new Q7, takes a wide-angle view of the area in front of the vehicle. Four front- and rear-mounted cameras view the immediate surroundings. Navigation data is utilized for basic vehicle orientation.

In situations where the piloted driving system reaches its limitations – in city environments, for example – the driver is requested to take control of the vehicle to ensure proper safety. Multiple warning signals work in unison: colored LEDs at the base of the windshield, signals in the driver information display, a Central Status Indicator (CSI), and an acoustic warning indicator alert the driver that they are required to retake control of the vehicle. Should the driver ignore the signals, the system activates the hazard lights and brings the car to a full stop while minimizing any risk. In most instances the vehicle is stopped on the right emergency lane.

Training for the journalist test drivers took place several weeks ago at the Arizona Proving Grounds. Each journalist will drive approximately 160km utilizing the piloted driving system. A trained Audi professional test driver be present for added safety.

 

6 January 2015

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