Sonoma Raceway is one of the more challenging road courses in the U.S., and Audi chose this 12-turn, 2.5-mile track to show off its latest display of self-driving technology. This specially equipped 2015 Audi RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept, nicknamed Robby, took to the track recently, posting a time of 2:01.01 minutes… with no driver behind the wheel. Just for comparison, at the recent NASCAR race at Sonoma in June, the top qualifying time was 1:14.4.

Audi has been testing and showing off its driverless technologies for a couple of years now, but this was, by far, the coolest example of what the technology is capable of. This testing was done to showcase the new self-driving capability that will debut on the next-gen 2017 Audi A8, which is expected to launch next year for the 2017 model year. Unless another automaker beats Audi to the punch, this could very well be the first technology of its kind to be offered in consumer-ready form.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept.

  • 2015 Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept
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  • 0-60 time:
    6.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    149 mph
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  • body style:


2015 Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2015 Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Showing that piloted driving is ready for production, the outside of this driving concept doesn’t have any of the obvious sensors or devices that many autonomous prototypes generally have. With the exception of the flashy body wrap, every aspect of this concept is identical to the updated 2015-2016 Audi RS 7. Looking like an odd racing livery, the exterior appearance of this concept does nothing to alter or obscure the car’s design, which means it is just there to look good. And it does.


2015 - 2016 Audi RS7 Interior
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Note: 2015-2016 Audi RS7 interior shown.

Based on past concepts, the interior of these piloted driving test vehicles are as stock-looking as the exteriors. The cameras and sensors used to operate the car will primarily focus on taking over driving duties in stop-and-go traffic at speeds of up to 60 mph, as well as when parking the car. The highlight, of course, is on safety, but it also adds a new level of luxury, convenience and efficiency to tomorrow’s automobiles.


Using the RS 7 as a starting point, Robby packs a 560-horsepower turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 under the hood, which alone would give a typical driver plenty to work with. Letting the car loose on the track under its own controls only shows all autonomous cars won’t be as boring as some sci-fi movies make them out to be — not counting the Audis in "I Robot," which were pretty sporty indeed. Coincidence?

Last year, another RS 7 prototype named Bobby was tested at the Hockenheimring showing a top speed of 149.1 mph, while another test earlier this year in Germany showed that the car can drive itself at speeds of 80 mph on public roads.


2015 Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept High Resolution Exterior
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A two-minute lap time at Sonoma Raceway isn’t normally something to get excited about, but one for a car that is driving itself is a promising advancement for future vehicular safety. Even though Audi has tested the piloted driving technology in many other circumstances, this test shows that cars of the future can be both fast and safe.

  • Leave it
    • Does nothing to show safety when pedestrians are nearby
    • Still plenty of testing and legal questions to overcome

Press Release

Piloted driving at Audi is approaching production readiness at race pace. On one of the world’s most challenging race tracks, the Sonoma Raceway in California, the latest generation of the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept has surpassed previous top performances once again. Audi will be offering piloted driving for the first time in the upcoming generation of the Audi A8.

2015 Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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“In Sonoma, we took the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept to its physical limits lap after lap, and it handled the task with uniform precision,” says Thomas Müller, who is responsible for the development of brake, steering and driver assistance systems at Audi. “The car turned in lap times that were better than those of sports car drivers.” The RS 7 took just 2:01.01 minutes to complete the 4,050-meter (2.5 mi) circuit.

For some time now, Audi has been testing piloted driving under increasingly challenging conditions. In October 2014, an RS 7 nicknamed “Bobby” already completed a driverless lap on the Hockenheimring at speeds up to 240 km/h (149.1 mph). The new generation of the car is named “Robby,” has a power output of 412 kW (560 hp) and is around 400 kg (881.8 lb) lighter than its predecessor. Whether braking, steering or accelerating, the piloted car controls all driving functions fully autonomously and with maximum precision.

2015 Audi RS 7 "Robby" Piloted Driving Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Audi is also testing piloted driving in the challenging situation of real road traffic.
At the start of 2015, “Jack” – an Audi A7 piloted driving concept with many near-production solutions – drove on public highways from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Shortly thereafter, this car also drove autonomously on German autobahns at speeds up to 130 km/h (80.8 mph). At CES Asia in May 2015, journalists also had an opportunity to experience piloted driving – in the traffic of megacity Shanghai.

The development work, which includes driving on a very wide array of testing grounds, is yielding valuable knowledge for series-production systems – from the sensor technology and data processing to vehicle control and stabilization.

The technologies for piloted driving stand for safety, time savings, efficiency and convenience. The systems can make a valuable contribution to safety, especially when the driver is overwhelmed or underwhelmed by driving tasks. In addition, it gives drivers greater freedom for organizing their time in the car. When used to temporarily assume driving tasks, the predictive technology makes driving more efficient, reduces stress and enhances comfort. Piloted driving will make its production debut in the next generation of the luxury-class sedan, the Audi A8. The systems can assume control of the car during parking or in stop-and-go traffic on freeways at speeds up to 60 km/h (37.3 mph).

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