Audi robot racecar, faster than human drivers

July 13, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
With a new generation of its robot racing car known as RS7 driving concept, carmaker Audi has surpassed the performance of its driverless racing car. The demonstration took place at the Sonoma Raceway north of San Francisco. The purpose of the event: Audi wants to highlight the maturity of its autonomous driving technology.

According to Audi, the robot vehicle achieved better lap times than human drivers. It completed one round of the 4.05 km (2.52 miles) circuit in just 2:01.01 minutes which corresponds to an average speed of some 122 kmph or 75.82 mph. The top speed was not communicated.

Since quite some time Audi is testing automated driving – “piloted driving” in Audi wording – under increasingly demanding conditions. In October 2014, am RS7 (nickname Bobby) completed a first driverless lap on the Hockenheim Ring racing track in Germany; at that opportunity it achieved a top speed of 240 kmph. The current vehicle generation (nickname Robby) is driven by an engine with 520 horsepowers (412 kW). Robby also has completed a reducing diet – it weighs 400 kg less than its predecessor. The Sonoma Raceway (until 2011 named Infineon Raceway after its main sponsor) is said to be one of the world’s most demanding racetracks.

The carmaker also tests piloted driving in the complex situations of real-world road traffic. Early 2015, Audi had an A7 piloted vehicle (nickname Jack) drive from the Silicon Valley to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – with passengers and several near-series solutions on board. In May 2015, the same vehicle drove through Shanghai’s chaotic city traffic, steered only by its sensors and algorithms. Audi says development and tests in situations as different as racing track, city traffic and highway yields valuable recognitions for the series systems, from sensor technology to real-time data processing and vehicle stabilising. The introduction piloted driving for series vehicles is near, Audi says: The next generation of its top-of-the-line A8 Sedan will be capable of taking over the control in specific situations like automated parking, stop-and-go traffic and highways traffic at speeds up to 60 kmph.

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