Audi’s local arm believes driverless cars are an inevitable part of Australia’s automotive future. It’s more a matter of “when” than “if”, according to Audi Australia communications manager, Anna Burgdorf.
“It is likely to be technology that’s available worldwide and Australia will be no different, ” she said.
When asked if the company has looked into testing driverless vehicles in Australia, similar to the trials run by Swedish rival Volvo, Burgdorf said it’s not presently a priority, as there is very little infrastructure to support the technology.
“It’s not the most important market to test autonomous technology because, potentially, less infrastructure is available,” she said.
“[But] when the technology is available to support customers, then we’ll see that in the Australian market.”
“For us, we will offer the technology at the right time when the market is ready for it.”
Above: Volvo ran Australia’s first autonomous driving trial in South Australia last year
Burgdorf was quick to point out that many of the driver-assistance technologies offered throughout the Audi range is a stepping stone to fully-autonomous driving.
“A number of our cars already have driver assistance technologies that effectively self-drive or support the customer so that you can enjoy traffic in a slightly different way,” she said.
Recent reports have indicated the next-generation Audi A8 limousine will feature level three autonomous driving technologies, meaning the car will be able to actively scan its environment, accelerate, decelerate and steer itself without requiring the driver’s hands on the wheel.
These systems will be able to control the vehicle at speeds up to 60km/h.
Last month, a report by the UK’s Autocar claimed Audi is working on an all-electric A9 e-tron limousine, which is said to sit above the A8 and offer level four autonomous technology when it launches in 2020.
Above: The 2020 Audi A9 is expected to look like the 2014 Audi Prologue concept
Speaking to the British publication, Ricky Hudi, Audi’s head of electric development, said level four is even more advanced.
“Level four is challenging because it requires considerable improvements to sensors and processing power,” he said.
“But it represents a big leap, because the car will be able to drive itself in many situations – not only on the motorway.”
In terms of other autonomous-capable vehicles available in Australia, the Tesla Model S and Model X both offer the company’s Autopilot semi-driverless system, which – after a new software update – is able to detect two vehicles ahead, steer, change lanes, overtake and brake without driver input.
Earlier this month the Royal Auto Club (RAC) sent Australia’s first autonomous bus on its maiden voyage in Perth.
It seems it will only be a matter of time before the majority of these self-driving technologies become mainstream.
What do you think about autonomous driving technologies? Let us know in the comments below