Driver not required
Piloted driving is on its way and every manufacturer is working on their own version of on-road autonomy. We got the jump and let a bank of computers driving an Audi A7 take us for a run down the busy A9 Autobahn in Germany.
If you’ve ever had the feeling of rowing a dinghy into a vast patch of blue water, the shore miles away when suddenly, mid stroke, the oars slip from your hands and drop beneath the boat, then you’ll appreciate how I felt when I experienced an autonomous car for the first time on the motorway.
Unlike the hypothetical dinghy however, “Jack,” the Audi A7 prototype being developed for piloted driving, didn’t leave me stranded as the steering wheel retracted away from my hands while we were cruising at 130kmh on the A9 Autobahn from Munich to Nuremberg.
The handover of controls was swift, silent and effortless and in an instant, a bank of computers took control as I literally became a passenger in the driver’s seat.
With no hands or feet on the controls, I turned to chat with Audi’s head of Driving Assistance Systems Pre-Development, Dr. Miklós Kiss in the back seat, occasionally keeping one eye on the road in case I needed to take over, but also because it was just too foreign for me to literally turn my back on the traffic altogether.
As we chatted, “Jack” called the shots on how the car should be driven. The A7 closed up on a truck ahead, eased off, indicated that it wanted to over take, waited until a gap appeared, pulled into the left lane, accelerated past the truck and when all clear, indicated right and moved back over. All while I sat there arms folded, facing rearward talking to Dr. Kiss. [To be continued...]
Audi’s Driverless A7: Level 3 Autonomous means hands off the wheel
I admit that this was going to be a hard win on Audi’s part to make me accept or even like the idea of not driving myself. As a car guy I love driving and I didn’t want to hear otherwise. I let it drive me along the A9 Autobahn and it took the boring, mind-numbing rush-hour driving off my hands. I slowly started to accept.
As a car guy, it’s ingrained into our mind that all types of driving is good driving. Whether it be to the office, the mall or the bank, driving yourself is the only way to go. Unless you could afford a chauffeur of course.
So what if your chauffeur which absorbed the road rage for you when stuck in a traffic jam or at the overly long the traffic lights was a computer? [To be continued...]