Aug 162010
 
Audi TTS Coupé
Image via Wikipedia

Audi is sending a robotic version of its TTS sports car to navigate to the top of Pikes Peak only guided by computers and GPS

In September a driverless Audi TTS will speed to the top of Colorado’s Pikes Peak at just under 100 kilometers per hour—that’s right, no driver. It is an early step toward a robo-car that can drive itself, perhaps better than you can.

The World Health Organization projects traffic fatalities to be the third leading cause of mortality worldwide by 2020. And drivers themselves are responsible for 73 percent of these deaths. So automakers are looking at ways they could make cars safer by taking driving out of human hands. Self-driving cars could offer other benefits: TNO, an international research firm based in the Netherlands, says that they could reduce the time lost to traffic jams by up to 50 percent, and reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by 5 percent.

The Pikes Peak run is a joint project of the Stanford University Dynamic Design Laboratory, the Electronics Research Lab (ERL) for the Volkswagen Group (which owns Audi), and software-maker Oracle Corp. The rough, part-gravel road to the top of Pikes Peak is the route of the annual International Hill Climb rally, an annual auto and motorcycle race. The TTS run will demonstrate whether the car can take curves as fast as a human driver—without driving off a cliff.

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