Audi Builds ‘Driverless’ Sports Car

Tony Dron’s report on the new Audi A8 in last week’s Classic Driver ended with the question, “How long will it be before these cars don’t need a driver at all?” Well, here’s your answer, Tony...

Audi has converted a standard TTS quattro to ‘drive by wire’, with the aim of tackling the 13-mile Pikes Peak Hill Climb in the USA – without a driver.

At the moment, the ‘Autonomous TTS’ is controlled by a computer in the boot but techies will be delighted to hear that, next year, ‘Stanford algorithms will be running in the car using Java “real time” receiving programming updates via telemetry with a range of 20 miles’. In the longer term, Audi envisages aerial towers, sending and receiving signals in much the same way as mobile phone aerials do today. (I just hope they manage to improve reception on the M25.)

As a backup, the car’s telemetry system can transmit info to a receiving station up to 20 miles away which can shut down the vehicle remotely, bringing the car to a complete stop. (Ah, sounds like the M25 again.)

With the Autonomous TTS currently in the testing phase, we’ve not been told exactly when the non-competitive Pikes Peak ‘drive’ will take place but it certainly won’t be at the actual Hill Climb Championships in June. Which is fortunate, since it would no doubt cause a bit of a headache for the scrutineers. But by this time next year, who knows? Maybe motorsport will have banned drivers altogether.

Text: Charis Whitcombe
Photos: Audi

ClassicInside - The Classic Driver Newsletter
Free Subscription!