Audi has revealed the completely 'Driverless' version of the A8L, which happens to be the company's flagship vehicle. The piloted driving technology demonstrator successfully negotiated Berlin traffic to convey Daniel Brühl and his girlfriend Felicitas Rombold to Film Festival red carpet event. Dispensing with a ‘conventional’ driver, the 12-cylinder, long wheelbase A8 L W12 picked up the celebrity couple from their hotel in Berlin and drove them directly to the Berlinale Palast.
“We are developing and testing our technologies for piloted driving under all conditions,” says Dr. Ing. StefanKnirsch, Audi Board Member for Technical Development. “We have already proven that we can have piloted cars drive safely on a race track and on the expressway. At the Berlinale, we have now mastered a complex urban traffic situation with maximum ease.” The aim was to make the grand entrance to the red carpet similar to the way an experienced chauffeur would drive – a very gentle and smooth approach and progressive, carefully modulated braking to a stop at the kerbside. It travelled in a suitably smooth and stately fashion by registering prominent architectural features along the driving route, comparing this logging with precise mapping and synchronising the information with data from its own calculation of its movements.
For years now, Audi has been testing its systems for piloted driving under increasingly more challenging conditions. The first tests were conducted in 2009 at a salt lake in the USA. One year later, an Audi TTS conquered Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains without a driver. In 2013, Audi test platforms performed piloted driving for the first time on public roads in Nevada. In the same year, the company demonstrated piloted parking – the driver exited a car at the entrance to a parking garage, and the car parked itself autonomously. Later, the driver ordered the car back to the garage exit with a smartphone app. Demonstrating just how dynamic piloted driving can be, an Audi RS 7 Sportback drove a lap at race pace on the grand prix circuit in Hockenheim in October 2014.