When viewed from the outside, the piloted driving concept is all but identical to the R8 e-tron that Audi unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. A closer look, however, reveals the coupe is fitted with a long list of high-tech components including a new type of laser scanner, several video cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radar sensors on both ends.
These work together to gather information about the car and, more importantly, its surroundings. The data is transferred to a central driver assistance control unit (zFAS in Audi-speak) that then controls the throttle, the brake pedal, and the steering. The self-driving system can be turned on and off at the simple push of a button.
Audi has not made any mechanical changes to the R8 e-tron piloted driving concept. The coupe is powered by two individual electric motors that send a total of 455 horsepower and 678 foot-pounds of torque to the rear wheels via an automatic transmission. The e-tron can reach 62 mph from a stop in 3.9 seconds and it goes on to a top speed of either 130 or 155 mph depending on which tires it is fitted with.
The motors get electricity from a high-voltage T-shaped battery pack with a capacity of 92 kWh. Thanks to recent advances in battery technology, the coupe offers a total driving range of 279 miles – about 14 more than a top-spec Tesla Model S – and the pack can be fully recharged in less than two hours.
Audi has previously confirmed the next generation of the range-topping A8 will be available with a self-driving system called Traffic Jam Pilot when it goes on sale in 2017. The technology will likely trickle down to other members of the Audi lineup including the R8.