Designed for slow moving traffic jams, the new Traffic Jam Assistant will allow the A8 to crawl in stop and go driving and even navigate curves completely autonomously.
The system is designed to work at speeds between 0 and 37 mph, and there will be certain constraints when it comes to the automatic steering, but Audi promises that it will be safe to use on expressways or in cities provided the course of the road is not too complex.
The traffic jam assistant is based on the functionality of adaptive cruise control, which already features a stop and go mode. Soon, it will be upgraded with a new component of lateral guidance for the Traffic Jam Assistant.
Two radar sensors monitor fan-shaped fields, each with a 21-degree scanning angle and a field of measure stretching some 820 feet in length. A wide-angle video camera monitors the lane markings, and it can also detect objects such as other vehicles, pedestrians and guardrails. Eight ultrasonic sensors monitor zones directly in front of the car and at its corners.
The corridor within which the traffic jam assistant drives the car is significantly wider than the lane between the lines; this allows for a certain offset relative to the car ahead. If it is necessary to make room for emergency vehicles or maneuver around an obstacle, the system follows the car ahead. The radar sensors not only detect the vehicle ahead, but also other vehicles in front of it. Importantly, it also reacts to cars moving into or out of the lane.
The latest announcement is not at all surprising given the advancements made in autonomous driving in recent years. Audi and its parent Volkswagen are leaders in this field, having successfully tested an autonomous TT in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
There are many in the industry that believe some form of autonomous driving will appear in mainstream cars by the end of the decade as automakers and governments attempt to reduce or even eliminate injuries and fatalities behind the wheel. Mercedes-Benz is also expected to launch a similar system on its next-generation S Class due out later this year.