Audi wants you to meet “Jack”. A self-driving car with social skills.
Technically speaking, “Jack” is an Audi A7 piloted driving concept the automaker has been testing in Germany. Audi says the car’s been designed to learn from humans using algorithms. And Audi says it’s working. Its researchers say the car is behaving more and more like a real human driver – one that actually considers the drivers around it. (Don’t we wish all human drivers did the same.)
So here are the big breakthroughs according to Audi. The automaker says “Jack” has not only learned how to autonomously perform all of its driving maneuvers on the highway, but drives more “naturally”, considering other drivers. “Jack” can now take all the real-time sensor information in its “super brain” processing system and “decide” what to do based on other drivers on the road. For example, when someone is trying to merge onto the highway, it can decide whether to accelerate or brake based on what’s best suited for all traffic. It’s also leaving more space prior to passing trucks and also moving closer to lane markings and signaling before changing lanes.
“Jack’s” super brain is a central driver assistance controller chip dubbed zFAS. The high-performance processors allow the Audi research car to use real-time sensing info to create a picture of its surroundings.
The testing is taking place on the A9 Autobahn. A section of the expressway connecting Berlin and Munich has been set it up for autonomous vehicle testing. Germany hopes it helps German automakers take front and center stage with self-piloting technology.
“Jack” recently took some international journalists out for a spin on the A9 to get their take on it. Check out their reactions below.