Automotive

Updated Audi RS 7 autonomous concept doing laps at Sonoma

Audi's piloted RS 7 concept recently tested its mettle at Sonoma Raceway
Audi's piloted RS 7 concept recently tested its mettle at Sonoma Raceway
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The updated RS 7 piloted concept is much lighter than its predecessor
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The updated RS 7 piloted concept is much lighter than its predecessor
The latest RS 7 piloted driving concept is nicknamed Robby
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The latest RS 7 piloted driving concept is nicknamed Robby
With 560 hp on tap, Robby has plenty of juice for track driving
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With 560 hp on tap, Robby has plenty of juice for track driving
Audi's piloted RS 7 concept recently tested its mettle at Sonoma Raceway
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Audi's piloted RS 7 concept recently tested its mettle at Sonoma Raceway
Robby's fastest lap time was just over 2 minutes
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Robby's fastest lap time was just over 2 minutes
Audi is using the RS 7 test car to develop the autonomous driving hardware it plans to launch in a couple years
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Audi is using the RS 7 test car to develop the autonomous driving hardware it plans to launch in a couple years
The RS 7 piloted driving concept takes on Sonoma
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The RS 7 piloted driving concept takes on Sonoma
RS 7 piloted driving concept
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RS 7 piloted driving concept

Once autonomous driving becomes commonplace, the idea of autonomous track racing will undoubtedly lose any small amount of luster it has. But as the technology works to prove itself, the world's interest remains piqued. After tearing around the Hockenheimring last year, Audi has made the leap across the Atlantic to run its updated RS 7 piloted driving concept on Sonoma Raceway.

Audi plans to launch piloted driving on the next-generation A8, and it's been quite busy readying the technology. After racing Hockenheim with the RS 7 concept nicknamed "Bobby," it navigated the highways between Silicon Valley and CES (Las Vegas) in a piloted A7 nicknamed "Jack" back in January. Jack then went on to drive Germany's autobahns autonomously at speeds of more than 80 mph (130 km/h), and Audi also navigated autonomously through Shanghai city traffic during CES Asia.

California's Sonoma Raceway is the latest stretch of pavement to serve as testing ground for Audi's autonomous driving program. An updated RS 7 nicknamed "Robby" self-drove itself around the track at high speeds, logging a fastest time of 2:01.01 on the 2.5-mi (4-km) track. The latest RS 7 piloted concept has dropped some 880 lb (400 kg) while maintaining the same 560-hp (412-kW) output as the Hockenheim car.

"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 Audi's Thomas Müller, head of brake, steering and driver assistance system development. "The car turned in lap times that were better than those of sports car drivers."

The updated RS 7 piloted concept is much lighter than its predecessor
The updated RS 7 piloted concept is much lighter than its predecessor

In March, Autocar reported that Audi had delayed the launch of the next-gen A8 in order to complete the electronic architecture behind the piloted driving suite. The A8 is now expected in late 2017. According to Audi, the A8's Traffic Jam Pilot System will allow the car to temporarily "take the wheel" in stop-and-go traffic at speeds up to 37 mph (60 km/h). The car will also be able to drive itself during parking maneuvers. This package represents the next step in Audi's gradual autonomous driving suite rollout.

The new Audi flagship will be based on Volkswagen's MLB Evo architecture, which is making its debut on the new Q7. The A8 is expected to get its looks from the Prologue concepts that Audi revealed at the recent Los Angeles, Geneva and Beijing auto shows.

Source: Audi

2 comments
mhpr262
Not sure robot racing will lose its luster so quickly. Those cars could be used in a "robot car series" with cars by different brands competing on the track - no famous charismatic driver to detract and distract from the technological achievement of the manufacturer. And they could be used in conventional racing to introduce moving, "impartial obstacles" human drivers have to overtake.
William H Lanteigne
Self-driving cars are interesting, but I really think the model to pursue is the fixed-route multi-stop people-hauler (city bus). Once the autonomous bus is accepted as economic and safe, local delivery could follow, then OTR long-haul freight trucks. Auto-taxis based on the Uber concept of dispatching by smartphone might be viable, but please don't call them "Johnny cabs." Entities such as bus and freight and taxi companies are far more likely to accept autonomous vehicles for the improved safety and economy than individuals are to buy self-driving cars.
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