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Audi staging 550-mile piloted drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas for CES in Audi A7 Sportback concept

Audi is staging a 550-mile (885 km) piloted drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas, Nevada for CES this week using the Audi A7 Sportback piloted driving concept car. (Earlier post.) The test drive in real world traffic and road conditions represents a joint effort by the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) und Volkswagen Group Research and Development.

The A7 piloted driving concept utilizes the latest advanced systems developed by Audi. The concept relieves the driver of driving duties from 0 to 70 mph (113 km/h). The car can initiate lane changes and passing maneuvers. In addition, the A7 piloted driving concept accelerates and brakes independently. Before initiating a lane change to the left or the right, the vehicle adapts its speed to surrounding vehicles. If the speed and distance calculation is deemed safe, the vehicle initiates the lane change with precision and in a timely manner.

The piloted concept vehicle utilizes a combination of various sensors, many of which are close to production-ready:

  • The long range radar sensors of the adaptive cruise control (ACC) and the Audi side assist (ASA) keep watch of the front and rear of the vehicle.

  • Two mid-range radar sensors at the front and rear respectively are aimed to the right and left to complete the 360 degree view.

  • Laser scanners are mounted within the Singleframe grille and the rear bumper skirt. The scanners deliver redundant information to provide detailed recognition of static and dynamic objets during piloted driving.

The technologies are production ready including their vehicle integration and cost structure for vehicle production in the near future. A new hi-resolution 3D video camera, already integrated into the next generation systems found in the new Q7, takes a wide-angle view out in front of the vehicle. Four small front and rear mounted cameras view closer surroundings. Navigation data is used for basic vehicle orientation.

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. Multiple warning signales work in unison: colored LEDs at the base of the windshield, signals in the driver information display, a Central Status Indicator (CSI), as well as a acoustic warning indicator requires the driver to retake control. Should the driver ignore the signals, the system activates the hazard lights and brings the car to a full stop while minimizing any risk. In most instances the vehicle is stopped on the right emergency lane.

The training for the jounalist test drivers taking part in the 550-mile trek took place several weeks ago at the Arizona Proving Grounds. Each journalist will drive approximately 100 miles utilizing the piloted driving system. A trained Audi professional test driver will accompany the media from the passenger seat for added safety.

Audi will present its “Next Chapter” at CES, with the primary topic being the connected car with its surroundings. Audi will present piloted driving, new user and display interfaces, modern infotainment and new Audi connect solutions, as well as LED and laser-matrix lighting technologies.

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