Herndon, Virginia – An autonomous Audi TTS has completed the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race without stopping and without a driver behind the wheel. The research vehicle completed the 12.42-mile (19.9 km) course in 27 minutes.
Jointly developed by Audi, Stanford University, Oracle and the Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, California, the car also drove to the summit in September without stopping. Organizers of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the second-oldest race in America, certified that the car completed the race, reaching speeds of 45 mph (72 km/h) on the last remaining dirt section.
The car ran the complete course five other times during the week-long testing, pausing only briefly on its own to confirm its reading of route data. Race officials said that while the autonomous car required 27 minutes to complete the course, they expected an expert race driver would finish in around 17 minutes in a car similar to the TTS.
The successful result proved that autonomous technology can handle difficult driving courses and conditions, the project engineers said. The goal is not to replace the driver, but to improve driver safety by creating extremely robust electronics.