Automotive

Audi RS 7 concept completes hot lap at Hockenheim sans driver

Audi RS 7 concept completes ho...
The RS 7 piloted driving concept has completed a lap of the Hockenheim Grand Prix track in just over two minutes
The RS 7 piloted driving concept has completed a lap of the Hockenheim Grand Prix track in just over two minutes
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The RS 7 piloted driving concept has completed a lap of the Hockenheim Grand Prix track in just over two minutes
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The RS 7 piloted driving concept has completed a lap of the Hockenheim Grand Prix track in just over two minutes
The 560 hp (418 kW) car employed specially corrected GPS signals and onboard 3D cameras to navigate the track
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The 560 hp (418 kW) car employed specially corrected GPS signals and onboard 3D cameras to navigate the track
German national football team captain Bastian Schweinsteiger drops the flag to get the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept underway
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German national football team captain Bastian Schweinsteiger drops the flag to get the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept underway

Audi has delivered on its promise to send a driverless Audi RS 7 around the Hockenheim Grand Prix track at racing speeds. Although those who tried to view the live stream yesterday were left wanting after the servers crashed, the RS 7 piloted driving concept completed a Hockenheimring lap in just over two minutes.

Although well short of the 1:13:78 lap record set by Kimi Räikkönen in the 2004 German Grand Prix, the two-minute-plus lap time was close to the 2 minute 10 second time predicted by the Audi team.

The 560 hp (418 kW) car employed specially corrected GPS signals transmitted to the car via Wi-Fi, with redundancy provided by high-frequency radio, while 3D cameras in the car filmed the track and a computer program compared the images against graphical information stored on board. Audi says this allowed the car to orient itself on the track to within centimeters and allow it to drive with high precision and take the optimum driving line.

German national football team captain Bastian Schweinsteiger drops the flag to get the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept underway
German national football team captain Bastian Schweinsteiger drops the flag to get the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept underway

Audis have been at the forefront of autonomous driving technologies. In 2010 a Stanford University team sendt its Autonomous TTS research car around the 12.42-mile (20 km) Pikes Peak mountain course in 27 minutes, nearing the lap times of expert race car drivers around California's Thunderhill Raceway in 2012 with the same car. And last month, Audi became the first auto manufacturer to receive an autonomous driving permit from the state of California.

Audi expects technologies from its piloted driving concept to make its way into future production vehicles before the end of the decade, taking the form of systems that take control of the car under certain conditions, such as traffic jams or when parking.

The 560 hp (418 kW) car employed specially corrected GPS signals and onboard 3D cameras to navigate the track
The 560 hp (418 kW) car employed specially corrected GPS signals and onboard 3D cameras to navigate the track

Although Audi didn't reveal an exact Hockenheimring lap time or the car's top speed on the run, the commentator in the video below excitedly exclaims the car reached speeds of 220 km/h (137 mph).

Source: Audi

4 comments
Ingvar Olsson
It would have been even more interesting if there had been a top professional driver in an identical car and the "race" between the driver and the driverless car had been a few laps. Which one had been faster? Driver or technology? /Ingvar
Matt Sanders
The reason it was not a race against a professional driver is that it would not have been close and could potentially be dangerous (Unless you use a TT format). From lap times I can find online, it looks like a sub two minute laptop should be attainable with a good novice racer. A pro would likely shave another several seconds. Then with all of the data processing they were doing just to go fast and stay on the track, adding another car on track at the same time would add a whole extra layer of complexity. I'm sure they will do it eventually but it was smart to keep the initial event a bit simpler. Novice Lap times: http://fastestlaps.com/tracks/hockenheim_gp.html Pro Lap times (DTM M3 is the closest match, though much more race tuned) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockenheimring#Record_laptimes
Reason
Great technology and I'm not that fussed about the lap time, and apparently neither are Audi - in the video the car starts and then at the end of the lap slows to a halt in the same grid position - technically a lap I guess but not what racers would call a lap - and Matt, I imagine what you are quoting there are flying laps? - not the same either.
Pedro Viana
The best lap with a Audi R8 isn't too far: http://fastestlaps.com/tracks/hockenheim_gp.html