Audi’s self-driving RS 7 prototype uses GPS and cameras to ‘see’

This Sunday, Audi will make a dramatic demonstration of autonomous-car tech, unleashing a self-driving RS 7 on Germany’s Hockenheimring for one hot lap.

The robotic RS 7 is mechanically similar to the ones available in showrooms, right down to the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, eight-speed automatic transmission, and quattro all-wheel drive.

The engine churns out 560 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, allowing the RS 7 to reach an estimated top speed of 189 mph. Audi expects the car to reach “only” 149 mph on its Hockenheimring lap, though.

To get all of that hardware to function automatically, Audi first needed to make sure the car could see where it was going.

Related: 2014 Audi RS 7 first drive

GPS signals will be used to orient the RS 7 on the track, while cameras will provide more precise situational awareness. Software will compare images from the cameras to a locally-stored database of familiar features to help the car figure out exactly where it is.

Audi says the lap stunt will also be a particularly tough test for the hardware that controls the steering, throttle, and brakes. It says the prototype has already logged several thousand miles on test routes to prepare it.

The RS 7 will only complete one lap at Hockenheim, but Audi says it will follow a “clean racing line,” using full throttle on the straights in pursuit of the fastest possible time. Engineers expect it to complete the lap in 2 minutes, 10 seconds, while pulling up to 1.1 g in the corners and 1.3 g under braking.

Audi’s first autonomous production cars won’t be doing that, though.

The carmaker is planning to launch an autopilot-like system in the near future that will allow cars to autonomously navigate urban traffic. That’s not as exciting as a fast lap on a racetrack, but it’s probably more useful.

Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.

The redesigned 2020 Passat shows Volkswagen still believes in sedans

The sedan segment in America is shrinking, but Volkswagen still believes in it. The German firm has released a teaser sketch to preview the redesigned 2020 Passat it will introduce during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.