Self-driving Audi RS7 Become ‘the Fastest Autonomous Car on the Planet’ [Video]

Audi’s self-driving RS7 concept can speed up to 150mph, being ‘fastest autonomous car on the planet,’ the company claims.

The market of self-driving cars is expanding. German automobile manufacturer Audi introduced its 2015 RS7, claiming it to be “fastest autonomous car on the planet.”

Rounding the course at Hockenheimring during the finale of this year’s DTM season, the vehicle hit 149mph, taking only 1 minute 57 seconds at the demo lap. The impressive RS7 boasts 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine with an eight-speed automated gearbox and 700Nm of torque.

“The top performance by the Audi RS 7 today substantiates the skills of our development team with regard to piloted driving at Audi,” said Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development at Audi AG. “And it’s derived from current production technology, which is very important for future development.”

The autonomous RS7 features a combination of cameras, laser scanners, GPS location data, radio transmissions and radar sensors to orientate itself on the circuit, as all the data is transmitted via WiFi.

The car’s 3D cameras capture the track and a computer program compares the images to a data set stored on board, in much the same way a top racing driver memorizes the circuit. Due to that process it is possible to make a perfect lap, on the fastest racing line all the way round.

The experiment marked a high point after 15 years of research by the firm in the US and Europe. Horst Glaser, Audi’s chassis development boss, says: “The driver has to put his hand on the steering wheel with current systems so the driver is always responsible.

“With piloted functions, the car takes the responsibility. It steers and brakes itself and makes emergency stops if necessary without the influence of the driver. The big challenge we have is to make sure the car always does the right thing.”

However, one industry-watcher noted that a speed test on an otherwise empty racetrack was very different to the day-to-day driving conditions such vehicles would one day experience.

“I think we will see driverless cars on our roads within a decade, but there’s clearly still a lot of work to do,” said Prof David Bailey from Aston Business School. “You need to make sure they interact with other driverless cars as well as those piloted by humans – you’ve got to make sure the software absolutely works.”

Audi, in partnership with Stanford University and the Electronics Research Laboratory in California, has been getting cars to think for themselves for 10 years. These high-speed tests are crucial to the development of automatic avoidance functions in critical driving situations.

Now, Glaser’s team are trying to create a “brain” for an autonomous car, as it need central ECU, which could decide which action is most appropriate in a certain scenario.

The “brain” works in tandem with a central sensor unit, essentially the car’s bearings, which act as an indicator of the car’s balance, reports Top Gear.

“They speak to each other and compare each other, and if there is a different calculation result the car will shut down,” says Glaser. “It will hand back to the driver and if the driver doesn’t react the car will slow down and stop by itself.”

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