Audi is continually advancing the development of its piloted driving test car. “Jack” – the internal nickname for the A7 Sportback-based technology platform – is now driving more naturally. This is illustrated by the way it confidently deals with hazardous points on the road, passes trucks with a slightly wider lateral gap and signals upcoming lane changes by activating the indicator and moving closer to the lane marking first – just like human drivers would do to indicate their intentions.
The cooperative attitude of “Jack” is shown when other vehicles want to merge into its lane on the motorway. Here the test car decides – based on the selected driving profile – whether to accelerate or brake, depending on which is best suited to handling the traffic situation harmoniously for all road users.
The zFAS computer calculates upcoming driving in advance.
Audi has been demonstrating the next steps in piloted driving on public roads too, for example under real traffic conditions on American highways from the west coast to Las Vegas.
The digital test site on the A9 autobahn – announced by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure – offers ideal conditions for evaluating and further developing future functions and concepts together with representatives of the Free State of Bavaria, the automotive industry and the IT industry.
In the future, information on variable-message traffic signs, for example, will be digitally transmitted into the car in order to assist the traffic flow. In addition, Audi is defining and testing elements of the future communications standard 5G together with IT partners. Car-to-X communication immediately enables piloted driving cars to use paved road shoulders when these are temporarily opened.
Another step forward is Car-to-Car communication between automobiles that are travelling on the same routes. They can report on hazardous points and accidents in real time. The driving speeds of other road users operating with piloted driving are then automatically adjusted to the potential hazard.
Audi’s partners for the digital test site on the A9 autobahn,are testing the internal composition and modified material structure of roadside posts. These are to be designed to reflect the radar sensors of cars even from greater distances. In addition, project participants within the scope of the test parameters are studying special traffic signs that allow the test vehicles to localize their positions with high precision within the various driving lane markings.
Audi is researching and developing another test site for this so-called “first mile” in Bavaria, near the redesigned autobahn exit “Ingolstadt-Süd.” From 2017, Audi – together with the city of Ingolstadt – will be testing construction methods such as the use of different types of pavement as well as technical solutions such as the use of sensors in junction zones. Piloted driving research cars from Audi are already being incorporated into the design of the new infrastructure. Test operation should begin in 2018.