This weekend Audi will show off its self-driving technology under what would seem to be the most challenging conditions imaginable: a race track.
Yet despite the high speeds involved, the feat is simpler in some ways than navigating city streets, where you have to recognize and avoid pedestrians and squirrels. A race car merely has to keep its position on the track, moving in and out of it only when passing or dodging another car.
And because the track is a known quantity, the car can keep it all in its little electronic head and rely heavily on GPS—provided it’s corrected to an accuracy of just a few centimeters. Which, in this case, it will be.
The public demonstration will take place on Sunday at the Hockenheim race track, in southwestern Germany. The car, an RS 7, will do a lap or two at race pace, around 250 kilometers per hour (149 miles per hour). It will duel with an identical, but human-piloted car. My money’s on the robot.
“We’re going into the curves, the cornering, just like a professional race driver,” Peter Bergmiller, a technician for Audi, says in the company’s video promotion. “So for example, we have lateral accelerations of more than 1 g.”
Watch the promo: