Audi claims to have set a driverless car speed record this past weekend when its RS7 model topped out at 149 miles per hour while completing a lap on a Grand Prix track in Germany in just over two minutes–five seconds faster than a human driver.
According to BBC News, the RS7 “used a combination of cameras, laser scanners, GPS location data, radio transmissions and radar sensors to guide itself around the track.” A computer in the trunk of the car processed the data and guided the car. As far as we know, the Knight Rider theme did not play as it circled the track.
Who would want to be in–or near–a driverless car careening down the highway at nearly 150 mph? Probably not many people, but tests like these are part of putting self-driving cars through their paces to ensure they are safe before debuting them to private buyers. (Which is to say: It’s a good publicity stunt.)
As Professor David Bailey of Aston Business School cautioned BBC News, “You need to make sure they interact with other driverless cars as well as those piloted by humans–you’ve got to make sure the software absolutely works.”
“But there could be big savings for the economy in terms of far fewer accidents and more efficient travel,” he added.