Experiencing the future

Audi customers get a first hand taste of piloted driving.

The concept is one thing, but actually experiencing piloted driving is quite another, as Audi customers in Germany are finding out, with ‘Jack’ taking care of the driving duties.

21 July, 2017

The concept of piloted driving has been around long enough for people to get used to the idea of a driverless car. Audi’s demonstrations have shown again and again just what is possible, from scaling Pikes Peak to taking on the Hockenheimring at race speed – sans driver!

But until now, it has largely been a select few journalists, politicians and more recently, celebrities attending the Berlinale, who have experienced the driverless phenomenon for themselves.

Now, Audi is offering selected customers to take a drive with ‘Jack’, the name given to the Audi A7 piloted riving concept and experience the technology for themselves.

Over a six week period, customer trips will run around a 45 kilometre test loop on the A9 autobahn north of Munich.

The customer trips start in the myAudi Sphere at Munich airport and follow a route that goes via the A9 – which is part of the ‘Digital Motorway Test Bed’. With a normal traffic flow, the piloted journey takes around 60 minutes, and although an Audi expert is always on board, it is Jack, the car. that does all of the driving.At the end of the journey participants are asked for their opinion, with their impressions incorporated into the development of future automated driving functions. 

Audi has already used the A7 piloted driving concept test vehicle on three continents since 2015. On the A9 it can drive at speeds up to 130km/h, with the car accelerating, braking and changing lanes predictively and smoothly while co-operating with other road users.

The highlight here is the central driver assistance controller (zFAS) which uses signals from all the sensors to continuously generates a detailed image of the surroundings. The zFAS – the size of a laptop – is fitted for the first time as standard in the new Audi A8 which was premiered last week at the Audi Summit in Barcelona and has been developed for highly automated driving as per SAE Level 3. The Audi AI traffic jam pilot will allow the driver to hand over the driving tasks to the car on freeways in slow moving traffic at speeds up to 60km/h.