Audi has a “highway only” self-driving prototype car, and the company has allowed some reporters to drive it in Germany. The Audi system is quite advanced, though it only requires two parts that are not on Audis available on the market today. It uses components that are already present on Audi vehicles, plus a laser scanner to detect other cars and an electronic brain known as zFAS. With this system, it can operate in full autonomous mode on the highway (or in Germany, the Autobahn).
Once the car detects that it is on the highway, self-driving mode is enabled, which the driver can turn on by pushing two buttons. Once the car enters autonomous mode, the pedals and steering wheel slide away from the driver, giving him or her more space, and the car is completely driverless. A screen on the dash shows the driver what moves the car intends to make, as well as a countdown to when the driver will need to retake control to exit the highway. The car is programmed to cruise at up to the posted speed limit. It is also programmed to drive more like a human in some situations, such as drifting towards road markings before signaling for a lane change or passing larger vehicles at a wider berth like a human driver would. For an article written by a journalist who “drove” one of these Audi A7s, go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/features/driving-audis-self-driving-car-on-the-autobahn/.
Audi believes fully driverless cars are still many years away and autonomous technology will be introduced to the market in stages. Accordingly, Audi is offering semi-automated features on its current models. The new A4 can be equipped with “pre-sense city,” which the Audi website says “can detect vehicles and pedestrians at speeds of up to 52 mph and can alert the driver to a potential collision and apply automatic braking to help minimize or prevent a collision.” The A4 also offers “side assist,” which “uses radar sensors and optical warnings to help alert you when a vehicle is in your blind spot.” Another currently available Audi feature is “active lane assist,” which “can help detect if your Audi is drifting out of its lane without use of the turn signal and assist the driver in steering the vehicle back onto its intended course.” Active lane assist and side assist can also work together to allegedly steer you away from vehicles in your blind spot, helping avoid collisions.
Like several other car companies, Audi has developed an autonomous mode for traffic jam situations. “Traffic jam assist” “provides gentle acceleration, braking and steering guidance, allowing for semi-autonomous driving when traveling at speeds between 0 and 37 mph in congested traffic.” To read more about the semi-autonomous features available on the newest Audi models, visit https://www.audiusa.com/models/audi-a4.
According to reports in 2016, Audi will release a new generation of A8 sedans in 2017, and these cars will be equipped with the first autonomous driving capabilities that allow the driver to take his or her eyes off the road. The fully autonomous mode will be in the Traffic Jam Assist function, and it will control the car without input from the driver. This model is also expectedly to offer drivers the ability to remotely park their cars through an app.