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The Audi A7 Piloted Driving Concept has begun its 885 kilometre, largely autonomous journey from Stanford, California to Las Vegas, Nevada.

For much of the 885km trip the experimental Audi A7 will drive itself along the United States’ Interstate Highway System. On the highway the A7, dubbed Jack by the development team, can pilot itself at anywhere between zero and 113km/h (70mph).

The highly autonomous A7 can change lanes and pass other vehicles as it deems necessary. This vehicle, however, is not equipped to drive itself through urban environments.

When it detects such a scenario, it will alert the person in the driver’s seat that they need to resume control via coloured LEDs at the base of the windscreen, flashing lights in the instrument panel and audio warnings. If the driver ignores these warnings, the A7 will bring itself to a complete stop in the safest manner possible, most likely in the emergency lane.

Drivers for this journey are all journalists who have been given around 160km of training, and are government certified to drive autonomous vehicles. There will also be an Audi engineer in the passenger’s seat to provide another level of back up.

The car is equipped with long-range radar at the front and rear, which feed into the adaptive cruise control and side assistance systems. There’s also two mid-range radar units, pointed off to the sides, at both the front and rear that allows the A7 Piloted Driving Concept to have a 360-degree view of its surroundings.

Laser scanners mounted in the grille and the rear skirt keep track of both static and moving objects. A high-resolution 3D camera has a forward view of the car, while other cameras look out to the side and rear of the vehicle.

If all goes to plan, the Audi A7 Piloted Driving Concept will end up in Las Vegas for CES, possibly in time for the company’s press presentation on Tuesday (US time).




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