Piloted driving technology demonstrator successfully negotiates Berlin traffic to convey celebrity couple to Film Festival red carpet event

  • Piloted Audi A8 provides VIP transport for actor Daniel Brühl at Berlinale Film Festival (February 11-21)
  • Audi technology platform masters complex traffic situation in Berlin
  • Controlled driving style like a professional chauffeur

The kind of awe that would normally strike onlookers as a glamorous film star steps onto the red carpet from an Audi A8 has also been elicited by the car itself this week – a completely driverless version of the luxury saloon has whisked movie star Daniel Brühl to a gala event at Germany’s Berlinale Film Festival, posting another milestone on the path to Audi piloted driving in the process.

Dispensing with a ‘conventional’ driver, the twelve-cylinder, long-wheelbase A8 L W12 picked up the internationally renowned actor and his girlfriend Felicitas Rombold from their hotel in Berlin and drove them directly to the Berlinale Palast. It travelled in a suitably smooth and stately fashion by registering prominent architectural features along the driving route, comparing this logging with precise mapping and synchronising the information with data from its own calculation of its movements.

“We are developing and testing our technologies for piloted driving under all conditions,” says Dr. Ing. StefanKnirsch, Audi Board Member for Technical Development project management website. “We have already proven that we can have piloted cars drive safely on a race track and on the expressway. At the Berlinale, we have now mastered a complex urban traffic situation with maximum ease.”

The aim was to make the grand entrance to the red carpet similar to the way an experienced chauffeur would drive – a very gentle and smooth approach and progressive, carefully modulated braking to a stop at the kerbside.

For years now, Audi has been testing its systems for piloted driving under increasingly more challenging conditions. The first tests were conducted in 2009 at a salt lake in the USA. One year later, an Audi TTS conquered Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains without a driver. In 2013, Audi test platforms performed piloted driving for the first time on public roads in Nevada.

In the same year, the brand demonstrated piloted parking – the driver exited a car at the entrance to a parking garage, and the car parked itself autonomously.

Later, the driver ordered the car back to the garage exit with a smartphone app.

Demonstrating just how dynamic piloted driving can be, an Audi RS 7 Sportback drove a lap at race pace on the grand prix circuit in Hockenheim in October 2014. The following year, Audi sent piloted test platforms onto public roads near the CES and CES Asia consumer electronics trade shows – from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas and in the urban traffic of Shanghai. In October 2015, engineers demonstrated automatic emergency evasive manoeuvres in a test vehicle with moving obstacles in the urban environment.

Piloted systems can make a valuable contribution to safety in the future – when used to temporarily assume driving tasks, the predictive technology makes driving more efficient, reduces stress and enhances comfort. In addition, it gives the driver greater freedom to organise time in the car.

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