"Jack," an Audi concept car, traveled from Silicon Valley, Calif., to the 2015 International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas by itself. Photo Andy Nemann
Audi arrives at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in "driverless" vehicle
A concept car from Audi could soon change the way some people with disabilities “drive” after traveling from Silicon Valley, Calif., to this week’s 2015 International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas by itself.
The pilotless car, an Audi A7 3.0 TFSI Quattro called “Jack,” made the roughly 560-mile trek using a combination of new technology and electronics already available in current production vehicles. Jack drove itself on highways at speeds of 0–70 miles per hour, including making lane changes and passing other vehicles. It was the longest drive at highway speeds for what Audi terms “piloted driving.”
The states of California and Nevada gave Audi special permission to test Jack on public roads. An experienced Audi test driver accompanied the drive from the passenger seat.
Long and mid-range sensors at the front and rear of the vehicle are directed to the left and right of it and provide the car with a 360-degree view of its environment. Laser scanners are integrated into the front grille as well as the rear bumper to provide additional detailed recognition of stationary or moving objects. Four smaller cameras at the front and rear of the A7 provide short-range information of the surrounding environment. A hi-resolution, wide-angle 3D video camera sees the surrounding traffic.
All of these systems feed information to the onboard computer, which adjusts the steering wheel, brakes, speed and transmission as needed. The driver can take control of the car at anytime during this process. Because of the complicated nature of driving in the city, the driver is required to take control of the A7 when exiting the highway. Multiple warning signals let the driver know when he or she needs to take the wheel.
Jack is the latest of four self-driving cars developed by Audi. The data gathered by the drive to the International CES will be used to help further develop the concept of what Audi calls a “piloted vehicle.”