Later this month, a 560 HP all-wheel drive Audi RS7 will take to the famous Hockenheim Ring Formula 1 track and try to set a lap record. Car companies hiring a star driver and renting out a storied racetrack to try to claim some kind of unofficial “record” for their latest go-fast (or go-really, really slow) model is hardly new, however- but it’s the driver that will make the difference this time. That’s because there won’t be a driver.
Audi is using the publicity stunt to demonstrate that its 2015 Audi RS7- equipped with the new Piloted Driving autonomous control system– is able to lap the demanding circuit “approximately as fast as with a professional race car driver at the wheel” on its own. If they pull it off, the move would put the system up there alongside the people who are (supposed to be) the best drivers in the world, and be a potentially deadly blow to any competency-based arguments from autonomous vehicle detractors.
In practice, it looks like the Audi has the stuff, too.
“The (autonomous Audi RS7) has demonstrated the ability to lap the Grand Prix circuit in just over two minutes, while reaching a top speed of 149 MPH” reports Motor Authority, quoting an Audi representative. That’s- yeah, that’s pretty fast, even for a 560 HP almost-supercar like the RS7. As such, regardless of how the test goes, it should be a terrific show for race and technology fans. See you Oct. 19-ish!