The Audi RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept was first introduced in October 2014 and in short order, it has more than lived up to Audi’s expectations. The autonomous vehicle’s latest claim to fame occurred at the Parcmotor race track in Barcelona where it set a lap time of 2:07.67, adding yet another feather on its cap.

Since its introduction, the RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept has made a habit of accomplishing things that have helped Audi improve its autonomous driving technology. During the hot lap at the Parcmotor, journalists were given a first-hand experience of riding an autonomous car under race conditions. This latest milestone also served as a hugely successful follow up to a similar run back in October 2014 when an RS 7 with the project name “Bobby” successfully completed a lap around the famed Hockenheim circuit in Germany, reaching speeds in excess of 149 mph in the process. In July 2015, the RS 7 also put in some impressive hot laps around the Sonoma Raceway in California.

These test runs are all part of Audi’s overarching plan to offer autonomous driving in its production cars in the future. A lot of automakers are doing something similar so at this point, it really has turned into a race to see which one can translate the tech to its models first. Judging from how far Audi has come since introducing the RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept last year, it does look like the German automaker’s ahead of the curve. The development ground being laid by the driverless sedan is already providing Audi with valuable information and knowledge, including information related to sensor technology, data processing, and stabilization.

The recent test in Barcelona only adds to the wealth of vital information Audi needs to further advancement the technology. Soon enough, we might be seeing the RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept in production guise. Should that day come, we can all look back to the amount of time, resources, and effort Audi put in to make it happen.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

At this point, it’s become common knowledge within the auto industry that autonomous driving technology is the next big step in the business. Every major automaker in the world is doing research and development to bring this tech to market. Almost all of them are pushing to bring this tech to market by 2020, or right around the same time that Google is targeting with the release of its own autonomous driving car.

In Audi’s case, the company already has some years of research and development under its belt. Remember, it launched the autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak car back in 2010, right around the same time when the thought of autonomous tech on mass produced vehicles was still in its embryonic stage. Over the years, Audi has even released a handful of concept models with the tech, including the Prologue Piloted Driving Concept back in January 2015 and the R8 e-Tron Piloted Driving Concept in May 2015.

All these tests and launches didn’t happen by coincidence. This is a concerted effort by the German automaker to push its own development of the tech so it can beat others to the punch. I’m pretty sure that other companies are are all doing the same thing. But, if there’s one company that’s really making waves from a headlines standpoint, it has to be Audi. The RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept’s latest accomplishment is impressive, but something tells me that it also won’t be its last breakthrough.

Audi RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept

2015 Audi RS7 Piloted Driving Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Audi RS 7 Piloted Driving Concept here.

Press Release

The Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept has once again driven to record times – autonomously and without any interventions by the driver. At the challenging FAST Parcmotor race track near Barcelona in Spain, Audi demonstrated its technological competence in piloted driving. Passengers were international journalists who had an opportunity to experience the latest generation of the high-powered, four-door sport coupe under race conditions.

At its second race course appearance this year in Sonoma, California, Audi trimmed the weight-reduced RS 7 for even higher performance. “Under challenging conditions on various international race courses, we are acquiring important experience in tuning our piloted functions at performance limits. Of course, this benefits development of our production assistance systems such as collision avoidance assist in the new Audi A4,” says Thomas Müller, who is responsible for the development of braking, steering and driver assistance systems at Audi. “Each race track is different and presents new challenges for us. We use the knowledge we gain to enhance the robustness and performance of our test vehicle. This has resulted in excellent lap times with a best lap time of 2:07.67 minutes for the 4.2 km (2.6 mi) long course.”

For some time now, Audi has been testing piloted driving under increasingly challenging conditions. In October 2014, an RS 7 with the project name “Bobby” already completed a driverless lap of the Hockenheimring at speeds of up to 240 km/h (149.1 mph). The current generation of the car is named “Robby,” and is powered by a 4.0 TFSI V8 biturbo engine with a power output of 412 kW (560 hp). Robby is around 400 kg (881.8 lb) lighter than the previous model. In July 2015, Robby had already thrilled the American public when it drove on the Sonoma Raceway in California without an active driver, turning in lap times that were better than those of sports car drivers.

Whether it is braking, steering or accelerating, the piloted car controls all driving functions – fully automated and with high precision. Audi is also testing piloted driving in the challenging situation of real road traffic. In early 2015, “Jack” – an Audi A7 piloted driving concept car – autonomously drove the 900 km (559.2 mi) route from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas with journalists aboard. Shortly thereafter, this car also drove autonomously at speeds of up to 130 km/h (80.8 mph) on German autobahns. At CES Asia in May 2015, journalists experienced piloted driving in the complex traffic of mega-city Shanghai. And in October 2015, Audi demonstrated automatic emergency evasive maneuvers of a test vehicle with moving obstacles in the urban environment.

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

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

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