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.