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Audi autonomous tech gets more human

Tech fest: Audi is working with the German government on driverless technology testing on the A9 autobahn.

Driverless technology in Audi test vehicles becomes more ‘considerate’


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16 May 2016

AUDI’S autonomous driving technology has taken another step towards an eventual production roll-out, with the car-maker announcing it has adapted its driverless system to be more considerate.

The A7 Sportback piloted driving concept, dubbed ‘Jack’ by Audi engineers, is now more capable of driving like a human being, according to the car-maker, which said the car has exhibited a “natural interaction” with other road users during testing.

Describing the test car as being “adaptive to the given situation, safe and especially interactive”, Audi says the latest version of its autonomous system allows the car to “confidently” deal with hazards on the road.

Audi gave examples of the A7 passing trucks with more room at the sides, as well as indicating upcoming lane changes by activating the turn signal and moving closer to the lane marking in much the same way a human would.

The system is now better at allowing other vehicles to merge into a lane. The system will determine whether to brake or accelerate, with consideration given to the traffic situation at the time.

Audi says the navigation system can now work out a route that has the largest proportion of piloted driving sections.

The company says its central driver assistance controller – dubbed zFAS – is the “super brain” of the piloted driving system. It uses high-performance processors to manage the signals from the sensors in real time to create a model of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Audi is working with the German government on further developing car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications with a digital test site on the A9 autobahn for real-road and real-time testing.

These types of communication channels will allow information on variable-message traffic signs to be digitally transmitted into the car to assist with traffic flow. It could even alter the vehicles to use the emergency lane to drive in if there is the road is blocked.

Car-to-car communication will mean accidents or hazards can be reported in real time and vehicle speeds can be automatically adjusted to avoid a potential crash.

Audi’s partners in the project are looking to change the make-up of roadside posts so they reflect the radar sensors of cars from a great distance and more accurately keep vehicles in the correct lane.

As part of the project – testing of which kicks off in 2018 – Audi and its partners are looking at using different types of pavement for the roads to work better with autonomous vehicles, as well as incorporating sensors into intersections.

Audi has undertaken a number of activities to highlight its driverless tech, most famously by using a driverless RS7 Sportback on the Hockenheim Motordrome at high speed in 2014, as well as sending an autonomous TT RS up the Pikes Peak hill climb.

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