Audi’s Jack the driver im­presses in test

The Witness - Wheels - - SUPPLEMENTS - AL­WYN VILJOEN

AUDI sent “Jack”, a self-driv­ing A7 3,0 TFSI quat­tro on a 900 km drive from Sil­i­con Val­ley in Cal­i­for­nia to Ne­vada in Las Ve­gas last month.

It was the big­gest such ex­per­i­ment by a Ger­man car maker since BMW send a 330i at speed around the Top Gear track in Eng­land in 2007, and Mercedes Benz an S500 along the very first car’s 100-kilo­me­tre route from Mannheim to Pforzheim in Ger­many in 2013.

Un­der the watchful eyes of sev­eral jour­nal­ists en route, Jack proved it­self very ca­pa­ble of driv­ing in traf­fic. Jour­nal­ists were im­pressed with the con­cept car’s abil­ity to drive com­fort­ably and the log­i­cal user in­ter­face for which Audi is known.

Jack of­fers to re­lieve the driver of driv­ing du­ties over 110 km/h. The car can ini­ti­ate lane changes and pass­ing ma­noeu­vr­ers as well as ac­cel­er­ate and brake in­de­pen­dently. As re­quired by law in Cal­i­for­nia, an Audi test driver ac­com­pa­nied the drive from the pas­sen­ger seat. Be­fore the pi­loted driv­ing sys­tem reaches its lim­i­ta­tions, in city en­vi­rons for ex­am­ple, the driver is re­quested to take con­trol. Audi says this is to en­sure proper safety, but as 99,9% of crashes are due to hu­man er­ror, the decision prob­a­bly has more to do with the fact that the le­gal in­dus­try in­tends to sue all par­ties should a self-steer­ing car go wrong. The con­cept ve­hi­cle used pro­duc­tion-ready sen­sors as well as sen­sors in­te­grated into pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles to­day. Audi said the sen­sors are close to pro­duc­tion.

PHOTO: AUDI

Pro­fes­sor Ul­rich Hack­en­berg (a mem­ber of the board of man­age­ment of Audi AG for tech­ni­cal de­vel­op­ment) stands be­side the new Audi Q7 launched at the Detroit Auto Show. Soon, Audis like this will have ‘Jack’ driv­ing them.

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