If there is one piece of technology that we could show as evidence of how fast we are soaring into the future, it would be automated driverless cars. This is not science fiction anymore as manufacturers are becoming increasingly successful at building cars that can drive pretty much by themselves.
In what could be a staggering feat, a concept Audi A7 equipped with this system, called Piloted Driving, will make its way from Silicon Valley in California all the way to Las Vegas in Nevada, a voyage of almost 900 kilometres! Cars equipped with this system can drive on highways at speeds of up to 110 kph, reducing driver fatigue levels significantly. Before reaching city limits, a series of warnings alerts the driver to take back control. If that does not happen, the car automatically switches on its hazard lights and brings itself to a halt.
This particular A7, affectionately named Jack by the development team, can also perform lane changes and overtaking manoeuvres. It also accelerates and brakes independently. While changing lanes, the speed and distance calculations are checked first and only if deemed safe does the vehicle initiate the change. The piloted concept vehicle utilizes a combination of various sensors, many of which are close to production readiness.
The long range radar sensors of the Adaptive Cruise Control and the Audi Side Assist keep watch of the front and rear of the vehicle. Two mid-range radar sensors at the front and rear respectively are aimed to the right and left to complete the 360 degree view. Laser scanners are mounted within the front grille and the rear bumper skirting which deliver redundant information to provide detailed recognition of static and dynamic objects during piloted driving. A new high resolution 3D video camera takes a wide-angle view of the front. Four small front and rear mounted cameras view closer surroundings and GPS navigation data is used for basic vehicle orientation.