Autonomous Audi RS 7 concept completes Hockenheimring lap at racing speed
20 October 2014
|System components of the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept. Click to enlarge.|
At the DTM season finale, an autonomous Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept completed a lap on the Grand Prix track in Hockenheim at racing speed—without a driver. It took the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept just slightly over two minutes to complete a lap on the track, piloted with high precision and accuracy to within centimeters. The five-door coupe is largely identical to the production model, but its electromechanical power steering, the brakes, the throttle valve and the eight-speed tiptronic are controlled automatically.
There are two primary technological considerations during piloted driving at such speeds: precise orientation of the vehicle on the road and absolute control of the vehicle at the handling limits.
For orientation on the track, the autonomous RS 7 uses specially corrected GPS signals for orientation on the track. Accurate down to a centimeter, these differential GPS data are transmitted to the vehicle via WLAN according to the automotive standard and redundantly via high-frequency radio. Parallel to this, 3D camera images are compared in real time against graphical information stored on board. The system searches in each of the countless individual images for several hundred known features, such as building patterns behind the track, which it then uses as additional positioning information.
Control of the vehicle at the handling limits is another feature of the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept car. Comprehensive on-board networking coupled with the highly precise control of all actors relevant to driving enable the technology platform to drive at the physical limits. The Audi engineers intensively investigated piloted driving at the handling limits, putting the technology platform through several thousand test kilometers on a variety of routes.
The Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept car drove a clean racing line at the Hockenheimring—full throttle on the straights, full braking before the corners, precise turn-in and perfectly metered acceleration when exiting the corners. Forces of over 1.3 g occur during braking, and lateral acceleration in the corners can reach 1.1 g. Tests on the track in Hockenheim suggested an expected top speed of 240 km/h (149.1 mph) and a lap time of 2 minutes and 10 seconds.
The top performance by the Audi RS 7 today substantiates the skills of our development team with regard to piloted driving at Audi. The derivations from series production, particularly in terms of precision and performance, are of great value for our further development steps.—Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member for Technical Development at AUDI AG
|On the track. Click to enlarge.|
Piloted driving is one of the most important development fields at Audi: The first successful developments were achieved ten years ago. The test results continually flow into series development.
|Driver assistance systems. Click to enlarge.|
These latest test runs are providing the Audi engineers with insights for the development of automatic avoidance functions in critical driving situations, for example.
Production Audi driver assistance systems include Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, and adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go function including Audi pre sense front.
Experts from Volkswagen Group Research, the Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) and Stanford University (both in California) are supporting Audi as partners in the further development of piloted systems.