An autonomous Audi will attempt to drive 550 miles from San Francisco to Las Vegas this week to attend the CES technology trade show.
The car uses sensors and lasers to monitor its environment and track other vehicles to navigate motorways at up to 70 miles per hour with no input from the driver. Audi claims the systems used are "production ready."
Audi will be hoping for a better outcome than last year, when an earlier version of the same "piloted driving concept" failed to complete the journey unaided, forcing its driver to take full control.
This year's car, nicknamed Jack, uses long- and short-range radar to create a 360-degree view of its surroundings, plus lasers mounted in the front and back bumpers, a 3D camera and four further cameras dotted around the car. All the data gathered from these is combined with the car's satellite navigation system to build a complete picture of its position on the road and in relation to other cars.
Primarily, the car uses its cameras to monitor road markings and stay in lane, but if these disappear due to bad weather or road maintenance, it can continue to drive autonomously by using its GPS and watching the traffic around it.
The car can accelerate and brake by itself, change lanes to the left or right, and adjust its speed to match traffic conditions without any driver input. When it approaches a more complex environment, the car alerts the driver with flashing lights and alarms to tell them they need to take full control. Should the driver ignore these instructions, the car will switch on its hazard lights and come to a stop; Audi claims the car will stop itself in the right emergency lane "in most instances".
Audi will present its "next chapter" in autonomous driving and in-car computing at CES this week, with the primary topic being how a connected car can interact with its environment.