Eric Felber Graeme Lisle
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Autonomous Audi TTS with new exterior
design on Pikes Peak
• Paint finish and name of research car honor the spirit of Audi rally
• Audi plans high-speed testing without driver in TTS
• Research project with Stanford University and Oracle for future driver
assistance safety systems
Herndon, Virginia, United States, July 14, 2010 – Audi is launching a new design
for the Audi TTS Pikes Peak before the autonomous car completes crucial high-
speed test runs up Pikes Peak in Colorado this fall.
With the changed appearance, the autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak is now squarely
aligned with Audi cars that made motorsports history over 20 years ago in the Pikes
Peak Hill Climb and other rally racing events.
The new emphasis for the project also includes quattro technology, which has not
only played an instrumental role in Audi racing successes, but also serves as an
example of the progressive engineering found in Audi models and is integral to the
handling of the Audi TTS research car. This year marks the 30th anniversary of
The challenge and heritage of Pikes Peak
The partners in developing this technology – the Stanford University Dynamic Design
Lab (DDL), the Electronics Research Lab (ERL) for the Volkswagen Group in Palo Alto
and Oracle Corp. – chose the part-pavement, part-gravel route of the storied Pikes
Peak race to prove the project’s capabilities.
This project uses electronics that will help drivers steer their way out of dangerous
situations. First programs have to be written that can replicate the quick decisions
and rapid maneuvers of the best rally racers under the most difficult road
The connection with rally racing provided another key inspiration to the project
team. Many of the leading automotive technologies that we see in an Audi today
evolved out of motorsports. This is because racing pushes emerging technologies to
the limits before they can be adopted more broadly.
How the Audi TTS Pikes Peak works
The autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak is based on the production version of the
Audi TTS. Audi engineers chose the TTS because its technical systems, such as a
drive-by-wire throttle and a semi-automatic DSG gearbox, were a good fit with the
electronics that allow the car to drive without human input.
The computing hardware added to the TTS research car isn’t significantly more
elaborate than what can be found in a standard laptop. The car currently uses two
computers in its trunk – one running safety critical algorithms using Oracle’s Real
Time Java (Java RTS). The other runs vehicle dynamics algorithms. The two
algorithms are what enable the TTS to drive at the limits of handling on a variety of
surfaces, at various speeds and in varying conditions.
The differential GPS system is capable of keeping the TTS within two centimeters of
the center line of a normal course; researchers are planning on a one-meter margin
on Pikes Peak due to the extreme conditions.
Design that links the past and the future
The design selected pays homage to the past, while conveying the leading-edge
technology that defines the TTS research car. Designers decided to give the rally car
themes from the 1980s a forward-looking twist.
The original rally cars, for example, didn’t feature a large four rings logo on their
roofs. The designers used that design cue from modern Audi DTM racing cars.
Although the Pikes Peak race cars were an important source of inspiration, very
different technology was used in those cars overall. The designers therefore decided
to use more modern graphics elements that were heritage-inspired.
Planned timeline for the Audi TTS Pikes Peak
The highlight of the months ahead for the autonomous Audi TTS is the planned
high-speed testing on Pikes Peak in the fall. During testing the Pikes Peak course
would be divided into segments, which the TTS research car would drive at
progressively increasing speeds. Certification of the testing will be done by an
independent motorsports organization.
Later in the fall, weather permitting, the autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak plans to
set a new land speed record at the El Mirage Lake dry-lake bed in southern California
or another nearby location. Officials from the Guinness Book would certify whether
the TTS can establish a record in the new category of fastest speed in an
The Audi Group sold around 950,000 cars of the Audi brand in 2009. The Company posted revenue of
€29.8 billion and an operating profit of €1.6 billion. Audi produces vehicles in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm
(Germany), Győr (Hungary), Changchun (China) and Brussels (Belgium). Aurangabad in India saw the
start of CKD production of the Audi A6 at the end of 2007, of the Audi A4 in early October 2008 and of
the Audi Q5 in July 2010. Production of the new Audi A1 has been running at the Brussels plant since May
2010. The Company is active in more than 100 markets worldwide. AUDI AG’s wholly owned subsidiaries
include AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft., Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. in Sant’Agata Bolognese
(Italy) and quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm. Audi currently employs around 58,000 people worldwide,
including 45,500 in Germany. Between 2010 and 2012 the Audi Group is planning to invest around €5.5
billion, mainly in new products, in order to sustain the Company’s technological lead embodied in its
“Vorsprung durch Technik” slogan. By 2015, Audi plans to increase the number of models in its portfolio
Audi has long been fulfilling its social responsibility on many levels – with the aim of making the future
worth living for generations to come. The basis for Audi’s lasting success is therefore formed by
environmental protection, the conservation of resources, international competitiveness and a forward-
looking human resources policy. One example of AUDI AG’s commitment to environmental issues is the
newly established Audi Environmental Foundation.