Audi Claims Speed Record for Self-Driving Car
German car giant Audi reports their RS7 vehicle reached speeds of 149mph (240km/h) while driving unmanned round the Hockenheim racing circuit, south of Frankfurt.
The self driven car took just over two minutes to complete a lap of the famous Grand Prix track in an event organised to highlight Audi’s efforts to bring “piloted driving” to road vehicles.
Surprisingly, a manned lap of the circuit took 5 seconds longer.
Audi’s research team explained that they believed the innovation could ultimately be used by the public.
“Accident-free driving will remain a vision. But at least we can reduce the number of accidents in the future,” said Dr Horst Glaser.
“Piloted driving defuses situations like being in a traffic jam. Whenever the driver is distracted and inattentive the car could take over.”
The RS7 used is still far from a practical production version of the car. A combination of cameras, laser scanners, GPS location data, radio transmissions and radar sensors used to guide it around the track, with the data processed by computing equipment that filled its boot.
The technology is not without its critics. One such cynic noted that a speed test on an otherwise empty racetrack was very different to the day-to-day driving conditions such vehicles would one day experience.
Audi is far from alone in this field research.
Another German manufacturer, Mercedes, showed off a rival computer-controlled version of its S-class car recently.
Other car companies including Daimler, Volvo, Toyota, Tesla and BMW are also experimenting with artificial intelligence-directed vehicles, as are other tech firms including Google, Panasonic and Autolive.