In further testing to explore the possibilities of driverless vehicles in the near future, Audi sent two RS7 performance sedans on the track in Northern Germany, one with a driver and the other with autonomous-driving technology.

The test was to determine if the machine can think for itself and make better decisions, especially in taking the corners, than a human driver at speeds that reached 305 kilometers per hour.  The outcome, the RS7 without a driver won by five seconds.

The RS7 Sportback

Audi input the map containing the left and right boundaries of the track in Oschersleben into the autonomous-driving system of ‘Bobby,’ the name they use to refer to the driverless vehicle.  They set the car loose and watched as "the car starts to think about it and generates its optimal line,” said Audi technician Peter Bergmiller.

While other automakers work on automated parking systems and detection systems to protect pedestrians and the driver from other vehicles on the road, Audi is taking risks testing vehicles on the track to prove that the technology has artificial intelligence allowing it to think for itself and make decisions for the safety of its occupants and vehicles around it.

Audi Engineers testing out the driverless RS7 Sportback

“The first systems for piloted driving could come to market in a few years.  Piloted driving is one of the most important development fields at Audi.  It’s key on the way toward accident-free driving,” said Audi Chief Technical Officer Ulrich Hackenberg.

It is a race for carmakers to get this technology tested and approved as Boston-based Lux Research estimates that technology for autonomous driving vehicles is forecast to be an $87 billion business by 2030.