Audi claims a world first for the new A8s AI traffic jam pilot with SAE level 3 conditional automation

Audi claims a world first for the new A8's AI traffic jam pilot with SAE level 3 conditional automation

Volkswagen Group's premium brand Audi is claiming a world first for the new A8 flagship saloon's AI traffic jam pilot with SAE level 3 conditional automation.

The technology handles the task of driving in traffic jam or slow-moving highway traffic up to 60km/h (37.3mph). With traffic jam pilot engaged, drivers no longer need to continuously monitor the vehicle and the road but must take over when the system prompts them.

If the car is travelling in nose to tail traffic at no more than 60km/h, the traffic jam pilot takes over the driving task on highways and multi-lane motorways with a physical barrier separating the two directions of traffic. The system handles starting from a stop, accelerating, steering and braking in its lane. It can also handle situations such as vehicles cutting in closely in front [Honda introduced something similar for its CR-V's intelligent predictive cruise control in 2015 and also claimed a world first - ed]. Control signals for conditional automated driving are obtained from the central driver assistance controller and from a redundant data fusion in the radar control unit.

If the driver has activated the traffic jam pilot at the AI button on the centre console, he or she can release the accelerator and steering wheel but must take over when prompted by the system. Unlike at level 2, drivers no longer have to continuously monitor the car and can focus on another activity supported by the on-board infotainment system, depending on the legal situation in the country. The virtual cockpit (VW Group's digital instrument display that can show a widescreen satnav map) shows a stylised view of the cars's movement and surroundings.

While traffic jam pilot is activated, a camera checks whether the driver is prepared to resume the task of steering if needed. It analyses the position and movement of the head and eyes in order to generate anonymised data. If a driver's eyes remain closed for an extended period, for example, the system prompts the driver to resume the driving task. The prompt to take over is given in three phases – ranging from visual and acoustic warnings all the way to an emergency brake application. If the speed exceeds 60km/h (37.3mph) or the traffic begins to clear, the traffic jam pilot informs drivers they need resume driving themselves. If the driver ignores this prompt and the subsequent warnings, the A8 is braked until it stops completely in its lane.

Introduction of the traffic jam pilot requires both clarity regarding the legal parameters for each country and specific adaptation and testing of the system while varying worldwide homologation procedures and deadlines must be observed. For these reasons, Audi, said, it will begin series production of the traffic jam pilot in phases, depending on the legal situations in its various markets.