Audi showcases self-driving car at CES 2014
As much as we driving enthusiasts would like to think otherwise automated cars are the future. Audi brought that rather distant future one step closer to us with the reveal of their self driving A7 at the Consumer Electronics Show or CES in Las Vegas.
The system can't exactly pilot the car in just any situation but it does work in medium to heavy traffic situations up to speeds of 60kmph
The first thing that comes to mind with this car is that it looks exactly the same as a regular A7. There's no massive camera or radar rigs mounted anywhere like Google has on their self-driving car and that gives it a nice and clean look. The system works by using a series of radar scanners, cameras and a forward facing laser to scan the road and conditions ahead. The windshield mounted camera scans the lanes on the road and keeps the car in the right direction while radar at the rear detects cars coming up and passing from either side. An LCD display in the instrument cluster provides a visual indication of all the vehicles around the car.
The system can't exactly pilot the car in just any situation but it does work in medium to heavy traffic situations up to speeds of 60kmph. The upshot of this is that the car can take over from the driver in those tedious heavy traffic situations. Of course this system would only work in western countries where driving is a disciplined and mature activity and where drivers use lanes properly and keep safe distance from each other. We highly doubt the system would function in the barely functional mess that is the Indian driving environment.
This entire system is handled by a computer that controls the engine/gearbox, brakes and steering wheel
This entire system is handled by a computer that controls the engine/gearbox, brakes and steering wheel. Now this isn't a massive boot occupying super computer that you might expect but instead is an iPad sized device that is neatly stowed neatly in boot. This is massively impressive because the system has to process up to 2.5 billion inputs a second from the various scanners. Obviously this was more the realm of an electronics expert which is why Audi teamed up with Nvidia for the job.
The prototype is nearly ready but that local regulations will keep the system off public roads for a while
Audi doesn't have any fixed time period for when this 'Piloted Driving' feature might become a production reality. Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the board at Audi for technical development, says that the prototype is nearly ready but that local regulations will keep the system off public roads for a while. He did however hint that the system may make an appearance in the next gen A8 two to three years from now.
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