According to most car manufacturers at the moment, the future for driving is driverless, as removing us from the equation can make our driving experience far safer. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that automated vehicles are faster than us too, which Audi just proved by pitting one of its RS7 performance sedans against the same car with a human driver. They raced each other around the Hockengheim circuit in North Germany, often at speeds closing in on 200 miles per hour.
The end result? The AI driven car won by over five seconds.
While this might seem like a way for Audi to show off its tech to the world, rather than anything that useful, it actually represents a big step in making autonomous cars operate at higher speeds. As it stands, a lot of autonomous braking systems only work at speeds under 50 miles per hour, which while useful, are ineffective on motorways or dual carriageways. With a technology like Audi has, it may be possible to operate these safety – and one day fully automated – features at much higher speeds and in more varied environments.
Describing the way the car thinks, was Audi technician Peter Bergmiller, who said that the car is only given a map that, “just contains the left and right boundaries of the track. The car starts to think about it and generates its optimal line,” he said.
This is of course the slight downside with automated vehicles at the moment, that they need the road mapped out for them before hand. Google’s modified and scratch built driverless cars are exactly the same, making them usable on around 0.01 per cent of all US roads, let alone anywhere else in the world. However, that’s a start at least and will lead to more baby steps in the future.
But there’s lots of companies working on automated technology, from Ford to Volvo, to Mercedes and many more, all hoping to develop features that will make their business stand out. Only Google and BMW/Baidu seem to be working on cars that are entirely autonomous, but Tesla isn’t far behind with a big push to create cars that can drive themselves on motorways.
We’d be remiss of course if we didn’t mention Audi however, with head of development at the company, Ulrich Hackenberg, stating that as long as politicians gave companies like his the legal go ahead, that they could bring automated cars to market in just a few short years.
The big push he said, was to try and make driving safer. Along with the likes of Volvo, which recently pledged to have no injuries or deaths in new Volvo cars by 2020, Audi is hoping for a bright future that’s free of road accidents. There’s a long way to go, but enough people are getting behind the idea that it may not be as far away as we think.
[Thanks Globe and Mail]