The tests of autonomous vehicles have already started a long time ago, but now, it seems that new locations are opening up and allowing tests. One such case happened in the state of New York this May. An application process was started, and many companies hurried to get their chance and receive a license. Audi seems to be the first one, and so they’re expected to start the tests near Albany in a few weeks.
The model that Audi will be using for the tests is their famous A7. This model isn’t new to the self-driving car fleet that belongs to this company. They already have licenses for testing in California and Nevada, which means that Audi already has lots of experience in the field.
The demo will require the performance of SAE Level 3 of autonomous driving tasks. That means that the car should be able to drive itself without human assistance and also to match the allowed speeds on the highway in the ideal conditions. Basically, it means that no speeding is allowed, but also no snow, and despite the fact that the driver isn’t allowed to ‘help’, they must still be behind the wheel and ready to take over the control at all times. Also, the tests will need to be performed on a divided highway, and one with limited access at that.
Two trained engineers will be allowed to remain inside the vehicle during the tests. One will be in the driver’s seat, while the other one must be in the back seat. Their presence is needed in order to monitor the systems and make sure that everything works properly. The route that the car will use is already approved by the New York state police. The permission for the tests was also given by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The state police will also be on the location, and their task will be to supervise the demonstration.
This is a big step up for Audi when it comes to achieving the fully operational self-driving car. Soon enough, the company expects to employ the new Level 3 system, which will have the ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’ as well. This new feature will allow a 35 mph hands-free driving while the car is on a divided highway. The system is still being tested, but it’s expected that it’ll hit the market sometime next year.
As for the Level 4 system, it’s expected to be able to drive the car at full highway speeds, and also to change lanes without human assistance. This one won’t be available before 2020-2021, according to experts. Level 3 will also be able to pull over if the driver fails to respond when the car asks, while Level 4 will be able to continue on its own even if the driver doesn’t react.
Reaching Level 4 by 2020 would be much harder, if not impossible without NVIDIA’s assistance when it comes to the AI. They also helped with the processing power that’s needed for making safe autonomous driving.