Audi will soon begin testing driverless cars in America. The company has followed Google’s tyre tracks and become the second company to obtain a license to test self-driving, or autonomous, vehicles in the American state of Nevada. Trials will begin in the not too distant future.
Audi has been dabbling in driverless car technology for years and has, on several occasions, shown just how advanced its technology has become. Unlike most makers of autonomous vehicles, which are content to negotiate a few cones in an empty parking lot, or pootle quietly around suburban streets, a robotic Audi TTS once conquered the dangerous 12.42-mile-long Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado at what would have been breakneck speed — if any necks were involved
The cars we see on the road are likely to be less bonkers, aimed at taking the strain of out driving in rush hour. The idea is that the user can push a button and have the vehicle follow the lane markings and vehicles in front while avoiding emergency situations. At present, the system being tested in Nevada will not allow the car to change lanes and will not operate above 60kmh.
Audi says one of its primary aims during testing will be to focus on fine tuning the effectiveness of the car’s onboard systems, as well as miniaturising the equipment needed to make it all work. Many autonomous vehicles are festooned with radar systems, cameras and other equipment that can make both the interior and exterior of the vehicles look rather unsightly.
Audi aims to replace the familiar spinning laser array that sits on top of driverless cars with a much smaller unit. The onboard computer required to process all the information that makes autonomous driving possible can now fit on a single board roughly the size of two ATX computer motherboards. The same computer also runs the infotainment system, traction control and other electronic systems, making better use of available space.
President of Audi America, Scott Keogh, said driverless cars are just around the corner, but the company has avoided giving a specific time frame as to when we’ll be able to buy the cars. Any dreams of tackling motorway tailbacks with your feet on the dashboard while reading a magazine are probably still a long way off.