Driverless Audi A8 L W12 brings Daniel Brühl to Berlinale Film Festival

Article by Andrew Christian, on February 25, 2016

Have you ever ridden in a car that’s controlled by a piloted driving system? Well, movie star Daniel Brühl and girlfriend Felicitas Rombold just did. Brühl and Rombold were picked up by a 12-cylinder, long-wheelbase Audi A8 L W12 – without a conventional driver – from their hotel in Berlin.

It successfully drove them to the Berlinale Palast for the Berlinale Film Festival. This red-carpet event was a special occasion not only for the internationally renowned actor but also for Audi, which in the process achieved another milestone to its piloted driving strategy.

The Audi A8 L W12 was able to achieve its mission in a smooth manner by logging prominent architectural features along the driving route and comparing this log with precise mapping. The resulting information is then synchronized with data from its own calculation of its movements.

Then the Audi A8 L W12 made a grand entrance to the red carpet just like an experienced chauffeur would – gently, smoothly, precisely and carefully. Audi has been evaluating its systems for piloted driving for years, under increasingly challenging conditions. Audi commenced its series of tests in 2009 at a salt lake in the United States. In 2010, Audi sent a driverless Audi TTS to complete Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains.

Three years later, Audi tested its piloted driving platforms for the first time on public roads in Nevada. That year, Audi demonstrated piloted parking by having the driver exit the car at a garage entrance and the vehicle parked itself without intervention. Then, the driver – using a smartphone app -- had the car drive itself back to the garage exit.

In October 2014, Audi also demonstrated that piloted driving could be dynamic too, by having an Audi RS 7 Sportback complete a lap -- at race pace -- on the grand prix circuit in Hockenheim. Just last year, Audi brought piloted test platforms onto public roads near the Consumer Electronic Show (from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas) and well as its Asian version in Shanghai, China.

In October 2015, Audi engineers were able to demonstrate automatic emergency evasive maneuvers using a test vehicle with moving obstacles in an urban setting. Audi believes that piloted systems would make a significant contribution to road safety in the future by allowing it to temporarily assume driving tasks and by enabling predictive technology to render driving more efficient while reducing stress and improving comfort. Moreover, piloted driving provides more freedom to organize time inside the vehicle.

Stefan Knirsch, Audi Board Member for Technical Development, remarked that the premium German carmaker is developing and testing piloted driving technologies under all conditions. Knirsch noted that Audi has already demonstrated that piloted cars could be driven safely on a race track and on the expressway. He added that the recent chauffeuring at the Berlinale has demonstrated that Audi has already mastered a complex urban traffic situation with maximum ease.

Press Release

‘CHAUFFEURLESS’ AUDI A8 WHISKS FILM STAR TO THE RED CARPET

The kind of awe that would normally strike onlookers as a glamorous film star steps onto the red carpet from an Audi A8 has also been elicited by the car itself this week - a completely driverless version of the luxury saloon has whisked movie star Daniel Brühl to a gala event at Germany’s Berlinale Film Festival, posting another milestone on the path to Audi piloted driving in the process.

Dispensing with a ‘conventional’ driver, the twelve-cylinder, long-wheelbase A8 L W12 picked up the internationally renowned actor and his girlfriend Felicitas Rombold from their hotel in Berlin and drove them directly to the Berlinale Palast. It travelled in a suitably smooth and stately fashion by registering prominent architectural features along the driving route, comparing this logging with precise mapping and synchronising the information with data from its own calculation of its movements.

“We are developing and testing our technologies for piloted driving under all conditions,” says Dr. Ing. StefanKnirsch, Audi Board Member for Technical Development. “We have already proven that we can have piloted cars drive safely on a race track and on the expressway. At the Berlinale, we have now mastered a complex urban traffic situation with maximum ease.”

The aim was to make the grand entrance to the red carpet similar to the way an experienced chauffeur would drive – a very gentle and smooth approach and progressive, carefully modulated braking to a stop at the kerbside.

For years now, Audi has been testing its systems for piloted driving under increasingly more challenging conditions. The first tests were conducted in 2009 at a salt lake in the USA. One year later, an Audi TTS conquered Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains without a driver. In 2013, Audi test platforms performed piloted driving for the first time on public roads in Nevada.

In the same year, the brand demonstrated piloted parking – the driver exited a car at the entrance to a parking garage, and the car parked itself autonomously.

Later, the driver ordered the car back to the garage exit with a smartphone app.

Demonstrating just how dynamic piloted driving can be, an Audi RS 7 Sportback drove a lap at race pace on the grand prix circuit in Hockenheim in October 2014. The following year, Audi sent piloted test platforms onto public roads near the CES and CES Asia consumer electronics trade shows – from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas and in the urban traffic of Shanghai. In October 2015, engineers demonstrated automatic emergency evasive manoeuvres in a test vehicle with moving obstacles in the urban environment.

Piloted systems can make a valuable contribution to safety in the future - when used to temporarily assume driving tasks, the predictive technology makes driving more efficient, reduces stress and enhances comfort. In addition, it gives the driver greater freedom to organise time in the car.

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