Over the weekend, two Audi RS7 performance sedans blazed across a track in northern Germany: one with a driver and one without. Even more amazing, though, is the fact that the driverless car won the matchup by an astonishing five seconds.
The performance should be no surprise, though. Audi has been working extremely hard throughout 2014 on improving its autonomous performance. How hard? Well, check out the two clips below; the first is from January of this year, while the second was published just last week…
Amazing, right? In the first clip, we see a slow moving, very cautious vehicle that might not exactly be welcomed on our very impatient roads. In the second clip, well, the vehicle is just a straight up speed demon. For Audi, though, all of the hard work and progression is really just about ensuring one thing: safety.
“We have to be able to manage extreme situations and that’s what we are demonstrating here.”
The extreme limits have been pushed so far that Audi has tested its autonomous vehicles at speeds as fast as 190 miles per hour, allowing the car to decide for itself the best way to take corners in the most recent race against its human counterpart.
Peter Bergmiller, an Audi technician said after the testing, “[The map the car gets] just contains the left and right boundaries of the track. The car starts to think about it and generates its optimal line.”
All of this testing, of course, is being done in preparations for a new, wide-open market in which autonomous cars are projected to dominate. In fact, Lux Research– based out of Boston– believes that the technology for self-driving cars will become an $87 billion market by 2030.
It’s a movement that Audi has paid close attention to. Audi development chief Ulrich Hackenberg says, Piloted driving is one of the most important development fields at Audi… the first systems for piloted driving could come to market in a few years.”