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Audi RS7 Laps Hockenheimring At Race Pace, Without A Driver: Video Photo:
audi_rs_7_piloted_autonomous_car_01 Photo: tmr
audi_rs_7_piloted_autonomous_car_05 Photo: tmr
audi_rs_7_piloted_autonomous_car_06 Photo: tmr
audi_rs_7_piloted_autonomous_car_03 Photo: tmr
audi_rs_7_piloted_autonomous_car_02 Photo: tmr
audi_rs_7_piloted_autonomous_car_04 Photo: tmr
Mike Stevens | Oct, 21 2014 | 1 Comment

Unmanned fighter jets? Old news. Hell, there’s nothing for them to even collide with. (Okay, maybe the ground. And mountains. Other planes..? Let's move on.)

For our money, the real magic is in having your driverless sports car lap a race track, at speed, without piling into the barriers.

That’s just what Audi has accomplished this week, sending 'Bobby', a heavily customised RS 7, around Germany’s Hockenheimring in just over two minutes.

That's about as quick as a racing driver could accomplish in the same car, Audi reckons.

Of course, Audi didn’t simply roll the big four-door coupe up to the gate, unclip its leash and say “off ya go, mate”. There’s more than a little bit of advanced preparation in a project like this.

The 412kW/700Nm RS 7 in question is what Audi calls a Piloted Driving concept, a rolling showcase of autonomous systems that utilise GPS and live camera inputs to orient the vehicle on the road - or track, in this case.

Audi says the project required “specially corrected GPS signals” are matched to a pre-defined course along the Hockenheimring, accurate down to just one centimetre.

The system also utilises a camera system that compares its vision with stored graphical data, including the design of buildings and other structures along the side of the track.

All of this is linked in to the RS 7's steering, throttle, brakes, eight-speed tiptronic auto and quattro all-wheel-drive.

It’s not the sort of system that could see the car overtake rivals and make snap judgements in the corners, but as Audi and other brands have shown, that’s not far away.

And, like a number of other carmakers, Audi expects to unveil a production-ready autonomous vehicle by 2020 - focused, of course, on leisurely commuting rather than aggressive track action.

Even now, Audi buyers can make the most of existing new technologies like side-assist blindspot monitoring, active lane assist lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control and Stop&Go traffic crawling.

MORE: Autonomous Cars | Safety Technologies

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