As well as trying out Audi’s innovative autonomous technology on public roads and highways in Nevada, the brand has also taken its testing to the track.
Autonomous vehicle tests have been carried out at Hockenheim and Sonoma Raceway in the past, but the newest technology is being pushed to its limits at Thunderhill Raceway in California.
Audi engineers and the Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Lab in Silicon Valley are working together to test piloted driving at speed, to ultimately develop safety systems in autonomous vehicles. As well as requiring the ability to read signs in city suburbs, automated vehicles need to be able to navigate slip roads on motorways, for example, and Audi is reportedly working to incorporate a complex system such as this into the next-generation Audi A8.
Audi has already proven that its automated cars have the ability to drive themselves on the track, as two RS 7s have shown: in October 2014, ‘Bobby’ completed the F1 course at Hockenheim without a driver at the wheel, and ‘Robby’ completed high-speed testing at Sonoma Raceway in July 2015, with both cars taking just over two minutes to complete their competitively-timed laps.
By testing on the track and pushing Audi cars as far as they can go without a driver at the wheel, automated technology from the German manufacturer has the potential to produce superior piloted driving suitable for safe road use – it could be closer to production than we thought.