Imagine that you are in a mall or in a hotel and at a touch of a button the car is waiting for you at the main exit door. This is not science-fiction literature, is the next robotic cars that don’t need someone behind the wheel to be driven. Audi is one of the car manufacturers that invest time and money to design the next car generation.
Trying to transform the cars into intelligent robots will lead to an excessive relaxation for passengers and safety roads for traffic participants. We have to wait some years from now until autonomous vehicles will be purchased from car showrooms. Google is in an advantageous stage with his self-driving car project which was already tested on Nevada roads with surprising results.
Like many others autonomous robots, Audi car uses a wide range of sensors to see the environment and a powerful computer to run complex algorithms and take decisions. Integrate sensors and algorithms to take decisions are not the single tasks for researchers and engineers. Since the car is not fully autonomous, they must ensure that the driver know when to give or take the control of the car.
We do not write about an automatic parallel parking system that is already available on several cars. We write about advanced autonomous system that allows the car to park without a driver that touching the wheel. For the first time Audi demonstrates the technology at CES 2013. Integrated in A7 series, the control system successfully park the car into a multi-story car park without driver, just with audience impressed by the technology.
How Audi A7 Self Driving Car Works
The intelligent vehicle is based on laser sensors while is equipped with several sensors including LIDAR, radar, and ultrasonic. The LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system creates 3D maps around the car by measuring the distance and other properties of environment objects targeted with laser light. The driver assistance technology takes decisions based on the information received from sensors and guide the car around obstacles.
Engineers use eight ultrasonic sensors to monitor the front of the car and its corners. Four wide-angle video cameras are used to monitor the lane markings and to detect other objects like vehicles or pedestrians. All cameras together give a view of 360 degrees. At all these detecting systems is added two laser sensors that scan up to 250 meters long at 21 degrees scanning angle.
All sensors were attached to the vehicle without prejudice design line or changes to its shapes. For example, the LIDAR sensor was redesigned by Audi engineers with small shapes to be integrated into the grille. In addition to sensors, an intelligent vehicle requires many electronics systems. Audi design lines represent elegance and have to be kept in the same range. To achieve the desired result a lot of effort was made to hide extra computing systems.
The desire to communicate at any time and with anyone is preserved and enhanced in the new Audi project. I cannot imagine an intelligent car without high definition systems and Internet connection. Connecting with Facebook or Twitter is necessary in Audi new intelligent car. Any update can be done at a click away or using text to speech system.
Audi A7 is the first robot car made by the company with the headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. Even Audi has the headquarters in Germany and is owned by Volkswagen Group, the company making the decision to design the cars of the future in his own research lab from Silicon Valley. In his own research lab working more than 100 engineers, designers and psychologists that put the base for the first car that drives themselves. Their research is based both on technology and on feedback from consumers.
Next cars of the future will be designed to reduce as much as possible the driver’s workload. For example, Audi A8 has integrated around 5,000 semi-conductors or chips, which is a high number even for a limousine from our days. Once by reducing the size and the price of these electronic components, the cars will be like a warehouse for semi-conductors or chips. These will communicate with each other to share traffic information, detect free parking places, or any information that helps.
Using the power of electronics and the Internet, the cars will be assistance systems on the wheels. Audi Connect is a complex system permanently connected to the Internet. Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology is the connection between driver and Internet. LTE allows the driver to use Google Earth and Street View on car display and gives the driver access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The system will have Internet traffic less than two gigabytes of data a month according to Audi.
MMI or multi-media interface is designed to be used by the driver without distracting the attention from driving. Using a touch pad the driver scribe the letters or numbers without taking his eyes from traffic. MMI is a modular multimedia interface based on Tegra 2 mobile processor designed by Nvidia. The process is almost used in smartphones, personal digital assistants, and mobile Internet devices.
Audi is on the same roads as Google, BMW, Mercedes, and many other car manufacturers who trying to build the cars of the future. The future already starts with this new project for Audi. Audi A7 has been just a prototype who excites the public and creates shapes for new premium cars designed to be used without a driver.Resources:
T3, Audi Debuts Self Driving Car …;
Popsci, CES 2013 Audi Demonstrate Its Self-Driving Car;
PCMag, Audi’s Future: Self-Driving Cars;