Robot of the Week: The Audi Traffic Jam Pilot

On certain roads, it is able to control the vehicle without driver involvement at speeds up to 37 mph.  The system, which in addition to the Traffic Jam Pilot also includes the Garage Pilot and the Parking Pilot, uses technology from Nvidia, Mobileye, and Delphi.



The feature package is available (not sure if its optional or standard) with the 2018 model A8.

Disclosure:  I’m an NVDA shareholder.


12 thoughts on “Robot of the Week: The Audi Traffic Jam Pilot”

  1. I don’t know whether I’ve ever been in an Audi – probably not. But I have recently been in a BMW and a Mercedes. Rubbish! Both were difficult to clamber into without bumping my head, both had an uncomfortably low roof and neither had as much leg room as I’d have liked. (The driver of the Mercedes complained about the roof height and he was only, he said, six foot.) God knows why – Germans aren’t small people. Based on those experiences I’d be surprised if they managed to sell any in the Netherlands except maybe as women’s cars.

    Should I predict the imminent collapse of German motor manufacturing? Maybe not, but based on that admittedly small sample its demise would be well merited.

  2. “Should I predict the imminent collapse of German motor manufacturing? ”

    Given their energy policies, I would say there is a fair prospect that all manufacturing is seriously weakened, if not collapsing,

  3. Some observations/comments about the Traffic Jam Pilot:

    1) It will only work on roads where there is a “physical barrier between the carriageways”…I think this means a barrier separating the opposite-direction traffic. Not totally clear why this is needed given that the system knows how to stay in a lane, but assume it is as an additional safety feature if the lane-following fails.

    2) The lane following is based on lane markings…what happens if they are not there? Probably, begin to slow down and alert the human driver while using the road geometry to try and stay in the lane, but just guessing.

    3) Not sure if it can deal with traffic lights and stop signs…I’m guessing not, at this stage.

    4) Aviation experience has shown that expecting people to rapidly take over from automated system is a bad idea, because the human is likely out of the loop psychologically. (See the Airbus South Atlantic crash for an example) I think the amount of time needed for a human in a self-driving car to take over safely depends on the human, obviously, but also on the non-driving activity the human is doing. Talking on phone for a normal conversation, a few seconds. A highly-stressful and complicated conversation, a little longer. Reading an engrossing book or watching video, still longer.

  4. Audi’s promotional video shows a driver who is alone in the car and paying attention to the road. That’s not a realistic scenario for all drivers in such situations. Alternative scenarios might include drivers who are chatting with other car occupants, having phone conversations, eating, texting, watching videos, reading, playing games on the phone, perhaps even dozing. Even if most drivers are careful there are enough drivers on the road for inattention in these situations to be a serious concern. One might expect the drivers who are most eager to not pay attention to the road to also be the most eager to use automated-driving technology. Experience will tell if this new technology reduces accidents accidents overall. It seems likely that significant problems remain to be worked out.

  5. Thinking of two roads around here that are highly subject to traffic jams…one of them lacks a center divider, so the system won’t work on that…even if it would, there are frequent emergency vehicles and lane closings (tree trimming, etc) that this system wouldn’t be able to cope with at present.

    The other is an interstate, which does have the center divider…but lane changes are often required if you don’t want to be stuck behind especially-slow traffic or take an exit that you don’t want to take.

  6. “The other is an interstate, which does have the center divider…but lane changes are often required if you don’t want to be stuck behind especially-slow traffic or take an exit that you don’t want to take.”

    Would you care if it took you 40 minutes instead of 30 minutes to get home, considering you’d be either working or taking care of personal business on your laptop?

    And in either case you’d be saving a half an hour per day [each way, probably] by having the car drive itself vs. having to concentrate on your role as meat servo for that not-inconsequential amount of time. Call it 200 work days per year at one hour per day, divided by 24 hours per day gives you an extra eight days per year of free time.

    It will be a paradigm shift. Twenty years from now people will be amazed that we wasted so much time driving cars instead of allowing the cars to drive us.

  7. One thing I’ve missed driving in the UAE is the untrustworthiness of the pavement markings and street signs. Add in the extremely diverse populations with their culturally different driving habits and I will often chose to take a taxi.

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