As autonomous initiatives continue worldwide, Audi is making further strides with “Jack,” their A7 piloted driving concept. Jack runs on a “central driver assistance controller,” or zFAS. The state-of-the-art, high-performance processors evaluate the vehicle’s surroundings in real-time, creating a model that represents the current driving situation as accurately as possible.
In essence, the technology can calculate various maneuvers and inputs in advance.
Recent improvements to Jack come in the way of passing, particularity with regard to larger vehicles like trucks. Jack now does it with a wider lateral gap, and signals for lane changes in a more human fashion. Jack is also quite tolerant, deciding how to maneuver accordingly when others need to merge.
Audi is considering how vehicles will “talk to” other vehicles and infrastructure; sometimes referred to as Car-to-Car or Car-to-X communication. Information on road signs can be digitally transmitted to vehicles in order ease things like traffic congestion, for example. Or, another vehicle traveling nearby can alert other cars about potential safety hazards, like an accident.
Audi has a digital test site on the A9 autobahn to further develop this. Secured by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Audi now works with representatives of the Free State of Bavari and the automotive and IT industries. In addition to the sensors, signals from the environment can give vital clues to the road ahead. Audi’s partners for the digital test site on the A9 autobahn are working on the internal composition and material structure of roadside posts.
If they can be designed a certain way, they will reflect a car’s radar sensors from greater distances.
Audi is also creating another test site near the redesigned autobahn exit Ingolstadt-Süd. Audi and the city of Ingolstadt will be testing various construction methods like different types of pavement and the use of sensors in intersection zones. Audi’s piloted driving cars are already being incorporated into the design of the new infrastructure, with the vehicle tests scheduled to begin in 2018.
Proponents of piloted and autonomous driving point to increased safety, less traffic congestion, better use of infrastructure, and more driver enjoyment.
*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan.