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In a bid to build a self-learning database of road and vehicle data, Audi has been using employees to collect over 400Gb of data across 70 vehicles in a bid to push autonomous driving even further.

Audi‘s car-to-x test car fleet logs data from real-world conditions by strapping data-logging transceivers to a fleet of 70 vehicles driven by employees across Europe (a mix of Q7, A4 and A5). With over 630,000km of driving logged so far, the one-year test period has gathered over six billion data points and in excess of 400Gb of data.

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The vehicles have been logging things like median acceleration rates, radio station strengths across cities, the types of radio stations listened to (and whether they were on an analogue or digital band), which buttons were frequently and infrequently used within the cabin, speeds and correspondence to GPS positions.

The system also reads traffic signs and signals, relaying temporary speed restrictions to other cars within the Audi network. This information can then be used by the vehicles to reduce speed automatically when radar cruise control is active, or even ask the driver to lift off the throttle earlier to save fuel.

Gathering all of this data is intended to go hand-in-hand with Audi, BMW and Daimler’s recent acquisition of Nokia-owned mapping company Here.

2017 Audi A5 and S5-104

The data being gathered will enable Audi to share this information in the future with authorities and third parties for things like radio signal strength, or even potholes on degraded roads. Audi can also use the data to better cater for buyers with minimising cabin clutter by removing infrequently used buttons within the cabin.

Audi plans to collect data via its customer’s cars from 2017, with all data anonymised and encrypted before being transmitted to Audi’s cloud service. Owners will have the option to disable the sharing of data.

Data transmission occurs via an Audi Connect module that allows the vehicle to communicate with Audi and also acts as an LTE wireless hotspot for vehicle passengers.

2017 Audi A5 and S5-97

At this stage, the technology is yet to be confirmed for Australia, but it’s an exciting venture that will help us exponentially learn from our cars and further develop technology to suit our lives.

The next step in the process is developing HD maps, which Audi plans to do in collaboration with BMW and Daimler through its Here mapping service, which the consortium has invested over $3 billion in.

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