This past week, at California’s Sonoma Raceway, Audi unveiled its latest in impressive self-driving technology, with an autonomous RS7 prototype known as “Robby.” While the human name might seem silly – the previous Audi self-driving race car was known as Bobby – the performance of this technological masterpiece is nothing to joke about. Audi improved on the design from their last foray into autonomous cars, and Robby is essentially a track-ready race car that needs no driver.
The Robby prototype shed 881 pounds from the Bobby, which was showcased in 2014 at the Pikes Peak TT. That car was impressive enough, but by trimming the fat to the tune of 881 pounds, Audi has created a more viable, production-ready self-driving vehicle. Audi intends to utilize this driverless technology – referred to as “piloted driving” – in future model years of the Audi A6 and A7 coupes.
Self-driving cars are kind of the “big thing” that every car company is trying to do right now, but very few companies are as advanced with their technology as Audi – indeed, a driverless car capable of speeding around a racetrack is a pretty impressive feat. Official specs on the Robby RS7 prototype have not been made public, but we expect the numbers to be impressive to say the least.
The weight trimmed on this car is a big deal, as the previous Bobby prototype had a trunk that was incredibly packed with computers and hardware that made it a somewhat unrealistic vehicle to ever make it to production. With the Robby, Audi condensed all of the computers into a smaller, more manageable package, that could very well be used as a design that will make it onto American roads.
Audi doesn’t intend to use the piloted driving technology to take drivers out of the equation completely, though. The technology will likely be intended for traffic jams and stop-and-go traffic, with maximum driving speeds of 37 miles per hour when in this mode. Drivers will not yet be able to take a nap while their car guides them across the nation’s highways, but we may see it someday.
In any case, Audi’s Robby RS7 prototype is an exciting development, showing that self-driving cars can be used for the track as well as the road. Look for Audi to make such technology more universally available in the coming years!