A Ride in the Self-driving Audi RS7 Around the Ascari Track: Video
It’s hard to not be impressed by Audi’s autonomous driving 2015 RS7 test car. You’ll likely recall the same car’s recent lap around the Hockenheim circuit in which only the on-board computers were driving the car. No programmed mappings of the track or remote controlling — it was all done by the car’s “sight.” Now Auto Express journalist Mat Watson gets a front row seat view of the action.
This RS7, nicknamed Bobby, retains all its important go-fast components, including its quattro all-wheel drive and the 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 making 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Added to the car are a bevy of cameras, radar sensors, and a precise GPS system.
Watson, accompanied by an Audi test driver, goes for a hands- and foot-free driving experience with the goal of beating the 2:12.5-second lap time Watson previously set while driving the RS7 himself. As the pair round the last corner at the Ascari racing circuit in Spain, the self-driving Audi crossed the finish line in 2:14.6 seconds. Being only 2.1 seconds slower ‘round the track isn’t bad for an autonomous car, especially considering the added weight of an extra adult.
While it’s very unlikely racing or track days will ever benefit from an autonomous car, the track provides an excellent proving ground for such technologies. Future customers can ride easy knowing their autonomous Audi has logged track time. In the mean time, it’s a fun video to watch.
The Audi RS7 concept is fitted with a host of upgrades that allow it to literally drive itself. 3D cameras, on-board GPS equipment, and radar sensors all help guide the car down road. The car is also programmed to hit “racing speeds” around the track, picking the best line and allowing for some wheel slippage. This is just the beginning of Audi’s plans with self-driving cars. Though petrol heads can rest easy knowing Audi isn’t planning on taking the driver out of driving. The autonomous feature is switched on by the driver to take over during boring commutes or long highway drives. It’s switched off for those times when driving is more joyful.