At the opening gala of the Berlin International Film Festival, a driverless Audi A8 L W12 drove up to the red carpet. On-board was movie star Daniel Brühl.
The piloted luxury sedan picked up the internationally renowned actor and his girlfriend Felicitas Rombold at their hotel in Berlin and drove them directly to the Berlinale Palast. The technology platform used prominent architectural objects along the driving route for orientation and compared the information with a precise map. In turn, the Audi A8 L W12 synchronizes this information with data from its own calculation of its movements. This comparison enables the piloted VIP shuttle to drive safely.
“We are developing and testing our technologies for piloted driving under all conditions”, says Dr. Ing. Stefan Knirsch, 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 braking as well as a stop right at the curb.
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 brand 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 race track in Hockenheim in October 2014. In the next year, Audi sent piloted test platforms onto public roads near the CES and CES Asia consumer electronics trade shows – from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas and in the urban traffic of Shanghai. In October 2015, engineers demonstrated automatic emergency evasive maneuvers in a test vehicle with moving obstacles in the urban environment.
The systems can make a valuable contribution toward safety in the future, especially when the driver is overwhelmed or underwhelmed by driving tasks. When used to temporarily assume driving tasks, the predictive technology makes driving more efficient, reduces stress and enhances comfort. In addition, it gives the driver greater freedom to organize his time in the car.
Audi has been a principal partner of the Berlin International Film Festival since 2014. This year, Audi is offering movie fans and professionals an extensive entertainment program with its “Berlinale Open House” at the Audi Berlinale Lounge, and it is exhibiting a fleet numbering 300 cars, including around 80 Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro cars.