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Audi completes 550-mile automated test drive with A7 protoytpe

Date: 09 January 2015   |   Author:

Driverless Audi A7 Sportback prototype

Audi has successfully conducted the majority of a 550-mile motorway test drive with an automated A7 Sportback prototype.

Audi used the prototype car to demonstrate automated technology to journalists on a journey from Silicon Valley near San Francisco to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada this week.

The A7 prototype was able to drive in motorway traffic hands free. The technology is currently limited to motorway driving and was not used in city traffic.

Professor Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi board member for technical development, said: "The results of the test drive underscore our piloted driving competency."

The test drive resulted in actionable data to help further development of Audi piloted driving.

It involved the longest drive undertaken so far by Audi at full road speeds with members of the public behind the wheel, each of whom was able to experience piloted driving in 100 mile stints in various traffic situations on public highways.

In total, the drive was 560 miles long and, as required by State laws in California, was accompanied by an Audi test driver who monitored the vehicle from the passenger seat.

How Audi's automated technology works

The concept vehicle utilises various production-ready sensors as well as sensors integrated into production vehicles today that detect the vehicle's surroundings.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) and Audi side assist (ASA) long-range radar sensors as well as mid-range radar sensors at the front and the rear of the vehicle that are directed to the left and right provide a 360 degree view of its environment.

Laser scanners are integrated into the front grille and the rear bumper to provide additional recognition of static or moving objects.

Four smaller cameras at the front and rear of the vehicle provide short-range information about the surrounding environment.

The high-resolution, wide-angle 3D video camera, which will first see production in the new Q7, observes the traffic surrounding the vehicle.

Audi says the sensor it uses already meets all the requirements necessary for inclusion into future products and is close to reaching production.

The concept relieves the driver of driving duties at speeds of up to 70mph.

The car can initiate lane changes and passing manoeuvres as well as accelerate and brake independently. Before initiating a lane change to the left or the right (on US highways), the vehicle adapts its speed to surrounding vehicles.

If the speed and distance calculation is deemed safe, the vehicle initiates the lane change itself.

Before 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.

Audi released a US promotional video to demonstrate the technology: