Self-driving cars are supposed to bring a new level of safety and efficiency to the road, but Audi wants to prove that they can handle a track, too.
The carmaker will let a self-driving RS 7 prototype loose on Germany’s Hockenheimring this Sunday, during the season finale of the German Touring Car Championship.
The autonomous RS 7 won’t be mixing it up with race cars, but it will attempt to complete one lap of the track without any human assistance.
Audi expects the robo-car to match the performance of a professional race driver. It anticipates a lap of the roughly three-mile circuit to take about two minutes, at speeds of up to 149 mph.
If a self-driving car can survive being pushed to the limit on a track, it should be able to waltz through most people’s morning commute, which is where you’ll most likely find Audi’s first autonomous production cars.
Audi hasn’t set a firm launch date for this feature, which will still require a human to be in control most of the time.
If autonomous cars really do catch on, they’ll probably be better suited to the boring work of crawling in traffic. Even if they can turn in hot laps on a track, that’s probably something people will still want to experience for themselves.