Audi A7 Piloted Driving Concept Will Take a 550-Mile Trip to CES
The newest marketing ploy to drive customers insane over how technologically advanced certain car brands are is "autonomous driving;" love it or hate it, but it is here to stay and that is where most carmakers will be heading in the future. Audi is the latest to jump on the "autonomous" bandwagon and those already familiar with its 2015 A7 piloted driving concepr will be happy to learn that the prototype will perform a mostly driverless test drive from Silicon Valley, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, where the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show) is currently taking place.
The car will drive itself more than 550 miles on public roads over the course of two days, with the driving time being split between a number of journalists, each of them being in charge of the Audi’s self-driving for around 100 miles. A professional test driver from Audi will obviously accompany the journalists from the passenger seat just in case something goes terribly wrong.
To make things clear, the autonomous Audi A7 piloted driving concept isn’t actually fully autonomous, and in city traffic it will request the driver to take control of the wheel in order to "ensure proper safety," as Audi says. On top of that, all the journalist test drivers have been trained beforehand by Audi at the Arizona Proving Grounds, so in theory none of them should have any problems bringing the semi-autonomous and probably very expensive prototype to CES safely. The test drive represents a common effort between Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) and Volkswagen Research and Development.
Click past the jump to read more about the Audi A7 Piloted Driving Concept.
Why it matters
I’m all for autonomous driving as long as real drivers still have a button that switches every assist off and offers them full control of the vehicle whenever they choose. I am against using the "autonomous driving" theme purely as a marketing ploy though, and this is what Audi seems to be doing with the A7 piloted driving concept. First of all, the technology behind the concept car isn’t that futuristic anymore, as a number of mass-produced cars have been able to technically drive themselves on the open road since 2013 — all you need to do is tie a can of juice or something similar to the steering wheel so that the car "thinks" you’re still holding the wheel.
Nicknamed "Jack" by the development team behind it, the A7 concept car is fitted with a bunch of production-ready features that help its autonomous driving credentials, including a 3D camera, mid-range radar sensors and laser scanners. Second of all, this "autonomous" test drive will be made in two days, while trained journalists and who knows who else will take turns driving the car through cities. In other words, this isn’t quite the feat that Audi is trying to make everyone believe, but it’s more of a live commercial for autonomous driving technology. Hooray!