Audi wins the license for testing self driving cars in New York, demonstration due in mid June

Jun 08, 2017 | by Iqtidar Ali

Audi became the first manufacturer to get a license for testing ‘self driving/autonomous’ vehicles in the State of New York. The German automaker announced this in a press release at the end of last month.

Audi plans to demonstrate Level 3 autonomous driving capability in mid June that is approx 1 week from now. The first ever autonomous vehicle demonstration in the history of NY will start from Albany near the state capitol.

Audi is working to demonstrate the Level 3 autonomy in collaboration with Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE). According to Audi’s press release:

SAE’s Level 3 means a vehicle is capable of automated driving at posted highway speeds when specific conditions are met. In New York, two trained engineers will be in the vehicle to monitor the system and ensure safety, one in the front seat and one in the back. Audi’s demonstration vehicle has already safely logged thousands of miles on limited access highways across the U.S.

Audi's Self Driving car "AI 2100"
Audi's Self Driving car "AI 2100" - Click/Tap to zoom-in.

However a global definition of Level 3 autonomy would define it as you can take your eyes off the wheel but not your mind. Wikipedia provides us with the following definition of Level 3 autonomous driving:

Level 3 (”eyes off”): The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The vehicle will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking. The driver must still be prepared to intervene within some limited time, specified by the manufacturer, when called upon by the vehicle to do so.

Audi seemed to have convinced the New York Government swiftly as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the application process earlier in May and till month’s end they acquired the license.

Although Audi have not yet announced the actual route of their self driving car’s demonstration but the route is already defined. The press release states that all the regulatory approvals from the Motor Vehicles Department and the Police Department have already been attained.

Audi’s self-driving prototype car (pictured above) looks like a modified A7 equipped with self driving hardware and software and by looking closely the number plate says ‘AI 2100’ which might mean they have brought the next century Artificial Intelligence today.

Also the bonnet reads ‘Audi AI’ and the side writing on the doors says ‘Audi Digital Driving’, these might be the voices of Audi we will frequently hear as their autonomous car project moves forward.

Nvidia Drive PX 2
Nvidia Drive PX 2 - World's first AI Supercomputer for Self Driving Cars

Earlier this year at CES 2017 we saw an Audi Q7 driving itself on a limited track while Nvidia’s Senior Director of Automotive Danny Shapiro gave a short interview about their AI and autonomous car ambitions (reported by TechCrunch).

The Audi Q7 at the event had the same on-board Nvidia PX2 Supercomputer as Tesla vehicles with Autopilot 2.0 hardware. This new vehicle from Audi prepared for the aforementioned demonstration would also have the same GPU to demonstrate it’s capabilities.

So congratulations to Audi and their engineering team by joining the next wave of autonomous mobility but their main rival is Tesla and they seem to be way ahead of everyone in this game.

Tesla plans to demonstrate Level 4 autonomy by the year end from LA to New York and that would be awesome to watch.

Governor Cuomo does not see autonomous cars only as a technological advancement but also as a means for improving the chances of saving lives on the road, he says:

“New York State is a nationwide leader in innovative highway safety programs and the potential for autonomous vehicles to save lives on our roadways is immeasurable,”

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Iqtidar Ali
xautoworld@gmail.com

Iqtidar Ali is a long time web developer and now writing for his childhood passion 'cars' further boosted by the advent of electric vehicles especially Tesla.

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