Audi’s second self-driving RS 7 blitzes California racetrack

Last fall, Audi sent a self-driving RS 7 prototype named “Bobby” around Germany’s Hockenheimring. Now, the German carmaker has built “Bobby” a little brother.

Audi brought a second car, named “Robby,” to California’s Sonoma Raceway, where it lapped the 2.5-mile circuit in 2:01.1. Development engineer Thomas Müller said the car turned in lap times that “were better than those of sports car drivers.”

Compared to the original self-driving RS 7 track car, “Robby” has the advantage of being 400 pounds lighter, with the same 560 horsepower output as its predecessor.

Both cars use GPS signals to orient themselves on a given track, and cameras to provide more precise situational awareness. The cars’ software compares images from the cameras to a locally-stored database of images to help them find their exact position. Commands are then transmitted to hardware that controls the steering, brakes, and acceleration, and can be as ferocious as any human driver, Audi says.

“Robby’s” sibling, “Bobby,” lapped the Hockenheimring at speeds up to 240 kph (149 mph). Audi said the car was set up to take corners like a professional race driver, and even generated cornering forces of up to 1g on the German circuit (without, of course, getting dizzy).

Audi also built a road-going autonomous A7 named “Jack” that drove from California to Las Vegas for CES earlier this year, covering over 500 miles with some help from human drivers. It then drove autonomously on German autobahns (albeit at a fairly restrained speed of 80 mph), and gave demonstrations in Shanghai traffic during CES Asia 2015.

Stunts like these are great for generating publicity, but could also help bring autonomous cars one step closer to showrooms. Audi says the tests are “yielding valuable knowledge for series-production systems,” including sensors, data processing, and vehicle control systems.

All of that knowledge will be put to use in the next-generation A8 sedan, which will be the first Audi production car with the ability to drive itself. Instead of blitzing racetracks, though, the A8 will pilot itself in stop-and-go traffic at speeds up to 60 kph (37 mph), and will also maneuver itself in and out of parking spaces.

That’s not quite as exciting as what the RS 7 prototypes are doing, but those aspects of driving are probably something human drivers will be more willing to leave to machines.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Cars

Nissan IMs concept teases a future long-range, autonomous electric car

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan IMs is an electric car with a 380-mile range, autonomous-driving capability, and a backseat designed for being chauffeured. Too bad it's just a concept car.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Cars

Self-driving, electric, and connected, the cars of CES 2019 hint at the future

Car companies remained surprisingly quiet during CES 2018. But they spoke up in 2019. From electric hatchbacks you can buy in 2019 to super-futuristic mood-detecting technology, here are the major announcements we covered during the event.
Cars

Peloton’s tech lets truckers play follow the leader to boost fuel economy

Peloton Technology can help semi trucks save fuel by running close together on the highway. Using short-range wireless communications, the trucks get a kind of super cruise control.
Cars

With 341 horsepower, the WRX STI S209 is the most powerful Subaru ever

The Subaru WRX STI S209 is the latest in a series of special editions that have never been sold in the United States before. The 341-horsepower pocket rocket debuts at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.
Cars

China’s GAC Motor cruises into Detroit with all-electric Entranze concept

Chinese automaker GAC Motor brought its all-electric Entranze concept to the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. This is the third straight year that GAC has appeared in Detroit, and the company has established a design center in California.
Cars

2020 Ford Explorer branches out with sporty ST, efficiency-focused hybrid models

The 2020 Ford Explorer gets two variants never before seen on Ford's stalwart family hauler. The ST focuses on performance, while the hybrid aims for decent gas mileage. Both models will debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.
Cars

Some of Volkswagen’s electric models will wear a ‘Made in the USA’ label

Confirming earlier rumors, Volkswagen has announced it will build electric cars in its Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory. The facility currently produces the Passat and the Atlas. Production will start in 2023, Digital Trends can reveal.
Cars

Infiniti previews its leap into one of the hottest industry segments

Infiniti will unveil the QX Inspiration concept at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The design study is an electric crossover shaped by Infiniti's newest design language that may point to a future production model.
Cars

Hyundai’s Veloster N hot hatchback will prove its mettle on the track

The Hyundai Veloster N will go racing to prove the credibility of Hyundai's new N performance division. Unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Veloster N race car will compete in a class with other small cars.
Cars

The 2020 Lexus RC F goes on a diet to run faster and hit harder

The Lexus RC F has been one of the heavier cars in its competitive set since its introduction. The Japanese firm's engineers set out to shed weight as they gave the model a mid-cycle update.
Cars

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.
Cars

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.