Audi sends self-driving A7 on 550-mile test drive from Bay Area to Las Vegas

Audi claims self-driving car is production ready.

By Matt Bradwell

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- German automaker Audi is betting big on on a future of cars without drivers, as it sent a prototype A7 on a 550-mile test drive from Stanford to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Using 20 mid and long-range sensors, internal radar, a grill-mounted laser scanner and multiple cameras in conjuction with real-time GPS mapping, the prototype A7, known as "Jack," can accelerate, break, change lanes and even pass other vehicles, all without any manual operation.


"Our goal is to make driving safer," Audi engineer Daniel Lipinski told CNBC. Lipinksi helped develop the A7's autopilot capabilities.

"We need to show the technology is safe and is a benefit and show we can be ready under certain situations."

Audi, part of the Volkswagen family of automakers, is letting automotive journalists ride in Jack for 100 miles at a time to report on their experience letting the car drive itself. Audi attempted a similar stunt -- albeit on a significantly smaller scale -- with the self-driving A7 at last year's CES, but the car's computer system failed and the test drive had to be finished manually, ultimately leaving Audi with little to show off.


A year later the technology has advanced so far Audi is comfortable sending the car across state lines and insisting the self-driving A7 is production ready.

"The technology is coming along quickly," Lipinski noted.

"You can see that this is a natural next step to the other driver assistance systems already being developed."

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