Audi is taking its concept for piloted driving (what the German auto manufacturer calls its autonomous driving program) seriously, whether we're ready for it, or not. In its latest autonomous adventure, Audi took the latest generation of its RS 7 piloted driving concept to Sonoma Raceway in California. “In Sonoma, we took the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept to its physical limits lap after lap, and it handled the task with uniform precision,” says Thomas Müller, who is responsible for the development of brake, steering and driver assistance systems at Audi. “The car turned in lap times that were better than those of sports car drivers.” The RS 7 took just 2:01.01 minutes to complete the 4,050-meter (2.5 mi) circuit. This isn't the first autonomous rodeo for Audi. In October 2014, an RS 7 nicknamed “Bobby” already completed a driverless lap on the Hockenheimring at speeds up to 240 km/h (149.1 mph). The new generation of the car - named “Robby ” - has a power output of 412 kW (560 hp) and is around 400 kg (881.8 lb) lighter than its predecessor. The piloted RS 7 controls all driving functions fully autonomously, whether braking, steering or accelerating. Audi is also testing piloted driving in real road traffic. The development work, which includes driving on a very wide array of testing grounds, is yielding valuable knowledge for series-production systems – from the sensor technology and data processing to vehicle control and stabilization. At the start of 2015 - “Jack” – an Audi A7 piloted driving concept with many near-production solutions – drove on public highways from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Shortly thereafter, this car also drove autonomously on German autobahns at speeds up to 130 km/h (80.8 mph). At CES Asia in May 2015, journalists also had an opportunity to experience piloted driving – in the traffic of megacity Shanghai. So, why the weird nicknames? Who knows, but Audi insists it will be offering piloted driving - with systems that can assume control of the car during parking or in stop-and-go traffic on freeways at speeds up to 60 km/h (37.3 mph) - for the first time in the upcoming generation of the Audi A8. We are simply overjoyed with the news.
Editor's Note: It's a rare occurrence indeed when reader mail - and Peter's response - ends up in "On The Table." But, in this case it was well worth it. -WG
Cue the Wicked Witch of the West: "Oh what a world, what a world."
At the risk of never getting published in AE ever again (you know I love you Peter), and freshly delivered to work after another miserable, rainy, traffic-laden 56-minute slog to the salt mines, I would have enjoyed having Audi's Robby/Bobby/Carl autonomous chauffeur this morning. Is it really any more than the evolution of cruise control? Not like you have to turn it on for every drive, right? When I take the back way home tonight, I'll hit my apexes. But this morning…"take me to work, Robert"… would have been plenty nice. Just sayin'.
Mount Joy, Pennsylvania
Editor-In-Chief's Note: I know it's coming, but I don't have to like it, do I? First it's the simple relief from a dismal commute. Then, it's the weekend errands. And before long, it will be the complete mindless subjugation, followed by, for scofflaws who don't acquiesce, being strapped down in a Pinto Pony MPG Simulator - complete with electric shocks if you attempt to control the vehicle - for eight hours at a time until your driving spirit is broken. Bud and I are planning our badass, doomsday machines now so we can prowl the night free, unfettered and flat-out. Just sayin'. -PMD
"... The blue bus is callin' us
The blue bus is callin' us
Driver, where you taken' us...
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you'll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end."
- The Doors
Just in case the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado doesn't float your boat, maybe this 2016 GMC Sierra Denali pickup will. GMC is touting new truck design elements including LED “C-shaped” signature daytime running lights and LED headlights; new front fascia and grilles for each trim level; new LED fog lamps; new bumpers; and new “C-shaped” LED taillights. The new truck will arrive at dealers in the late fall. More details to follow.
For the eighth straight year, Ford Motor Company has created a unique, aviation-inspired Ford Mustang to benefit Experimental Aircraft Association youth education programs. Based on a 2015 5.0-liter fastback Ford Mustang GT, Ford design and engineering teams transformed the machine into the unique Apollo Edition Mustang. Led by Ford Design Manager Melvin Betancourt, the exterior features a one-of-a-kind glossy pure white and pure black non-production paint scheme consistent with the colors of the NASA Apollo program. The Apollo Edition Mustang features a carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, rocker moldings and accent treatments, along with unique LED underbody lighting to symbolize atmospheric re-entry. Performance enhancements include a performance package, Ford Performance supercharger and shifter, X-pipe with side and rear exhaust, sport-tuned suspension, six-piston Brembo brakes and custom Forgiato 21-inch performance wheels. This very special Mustang delivers 627HP and 540 lb.-ft. of torque. The custom Apollo theme carries into the cabin with exclusive interior details, including performance gauges, modified instrument cluster, unique sill plates and embroidered elements in seats, trim panels and floor mats. The Apollo Edition Mustang will be donated and sold via auction at the Gathering of Eagles charity event, July 23, at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 – the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration. All proceeds from the sale of the car will benefit EAA youth education programs, including the Young Eagles, which has provided free introductory flights to more than 1.9 million young people since 1992, helping grow the next generation of aviators. Ford serves as exclusive automotive sponsor of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, held July 20-26 this year at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Editor's Note: More news for Mustang fans - a new interactive video enables viewers to experience the all‑new Ford Mustang from multiple perspectives as it hammers around Silverstone, in the U.K. The video, shot using a 5.0-liter V8 Mustang fastback, allows the viewer to rotate the vantage point from inside the Mustang using the mouse or curser. Users can also seamlessly switch to helicopter and front bumper views, see the Mustang’s position on an active map, and check the speedometer and rev counter. The interactive video can be experienced here: http://bit.ly/Mustang360Silverstone* -WG