Audi has been a leader in automated driving for more than a decade. The brand has researched and tested piloted driving, bringing to market game-changing concepts and vehicles. Audi set records with the longest piloted highway drive and fastest track drive while, in parallel, developing and bringing to market the Level 2 “Traffic Jam Assist” technology available in today’s Audi automobiles.
The introduction of automated vehicles represents an essential innovation that can dramatically reduce the 94 percent of accidents that happen on our roads and are attributed to human error.
Audi piloted driving technology meets the strictest safety standards and will allow motorists to hand over driving functions to new systems using sensors, cameras, laser scanners and artificial intelligence, which all combine to handle steering, braking, acceleration, maneuvering, monitoring and even reacting to the highway road environment.
To get to full autonomy, auto innovators will need to be transparent about what automated technologies can and cannot do, and the timeline for their availability. Audi has been and will remain at the forefront of this technology, leading the transformation in mobility to bring greater safety to our roads, improve system-wide efficiency, and offer greater mobility.
The future of Audi piloted driving
Deep learning technology will enable skilled handling of real-road complexities, delivering safer automated vehicles earlier, with the intent of delivering highly automated automobiles starting in 2020. Audi will expand testing of highly automated, artificial intelligence-equipped vehicles in 2018.
Today, no vehicle on the road has surpassed Level 2 automation. The Level 2 “Traffic Jam Assist” feature available on the 2017 Audi A4 and Q7 allows for 15-second intervals of hands-off driving at slower speeds. The driver must constantly be alert and aware, and intervene immediately as needed.
In 2017, Audi will introduce what’s expected to the world’s first to-market Level 3 automated driving system with “Traffic Jam Pilot” in the next generation Audi A8. The system will give drivers the option to travel hands-free up to 35 mph, when certain conditions are met prior to enadling this feature — for instance, the vehicle will ensure it is on a limited-access, divided highway.
In 2020-2021, Audi will introduce a Level 4 “Highway Pilot” feature—technology similar to what has been demonstrated in our concept vehicle “Jack”—that offers hands-free driving at posted limited access highway speeds in which the vehicle can execute lane changes and pass cars independently.
Audi Level 3 technology uses a series of safety checkpoints, including:
- Driver Availability Detection confirms that the driver is active and available to intervene. If not, it will bring the car to a safe stop.
- The vehicle ensures that the road is suitable for piloted driving by detecting features of the surroundings like lane markings, shoulders, and side barriers.
- Sensor and camera redundancy systems mean the system “sees” in multiple ways.
- Backup systems will be in place for steering and braking.
The History of Audi piloted driving
- In 2005, Audi and Stanford University were fastest to complete a 150-mile course, winning that year’s DARPA Grand Challenge for automated vehicles.
- In 2009, an Audi TTS sets the world speed record for automated vehicles with a speed of 210 km/h (130.5 mph).
- In 2010, an Audi TTS climbs Pikes Peak without a driver.
- In 2013, Audi is the first carmaker to test piloted driving under real conditions in Nevada, and the first OEM to receive a Nevada autonomous driving license.
- In 2014, the U.S. states California and Florida follow; Audi is the first company to gain California permit for testing. At Hockenheimring speedway, the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept completed a lap at racing speed without a driver present.
- In 2015, Audi was the first company to allow non-engineers in the driver’s seat of a car equipped with “Highway Pilot” technology on a 566-mile test drive from Silicon Valley, California to CES in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- In 2016, Audi brought Level 2 automation to the road with “Traffic Jam Assist” feature available on the 2017 Audi A4 and Q7 allows for 15-second intervals of hands-off driving at slower speeds. The driver must constantly be alert and aware, and intervene immediately as needed.
- In 2017 at CES, Audi announced a partnership with NVIDIA to use artificial intelligence to deliver highly automated vehicles starting in 2020 and showcased deep learning advancements with an Audi Q7 piloted driving concept vehicle.
Levels of automation
SAE International defines six levels of automation:
0. No Automation. The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems.
1. Driver Assistance. The driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of either steering or acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver perform all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task.
2. Partial Automation. The driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver perform all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task.
3. Conditional Automation. The driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene.
4. High Automation. The driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene.
5. Full Automation. The full-time performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver.