The 2014 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) has turned out to be a big platform for Audi to display its technological advances. So far, Audi had displayed its Laser Lights in the Audi Sport Quattro, Qi Wireless, the interiors of the 2015 TT Coupe as well as announced its partnerships with mobile chipmaker Qualcomm and Google for car infotainment systems. But the biggest technological marvel has to be the ‘Piloted Driving’ system which can take over from the driver and control the car itself!
Audi displayed this new technology in its A7 model, as the car drove itself onto the stage during the presentation. Long and mid-range radar systems, several video cameras, a laser scanner, and ultrasonic distance sensors on the front and sides of the car, small enough to be hidden from view, all scan the conditions and road ahead. A computer called zFAS processes up to 2.5 billion inputs a second from the various cameras and scanners and controls the engine, gearbox, steering wheel and most importantly, the brakes. The instrument cluster provides a visual of feeds from around the car through an LCD display. For now, the system is capable of working at speeds below 60kmph. Audi teamed up with Nvidia for making the zFAS, which surprisingly is the size of an iPad and is discretely stowed in the boot.
Audi had also displayed an automated car at the CES last year, but unlike this system, the older model was very complex and messy. Speaking about their advancement, Audi’s chief technical officer, Ulrich Hackenberg said, “At CES one year ago, the trunk of the demo cars was still full of cables and electronics. The prototype period is almost over. Now it’s time to get ready for serious production.”
Very close to being production-ready, Audi hinted that the system may make an appearance in its flagship, the A8, two to three years down the road. Mr Hackenburg accepted that one of the biggest hurdle in getting the technology into production cars is having the government in different countries to regulate or allow the use of driverless cars.