You might have heard that Audi made an autonomous TT that drove itself up the Pikes Peak hill in America, arguably the most demanding rally course in the world. Here’s some short footage of that event, but the actual lap took 27 minutes, which is not bad for what’s basically a robot. The normal TT-S with a pro driver at the wheel is expected to complete the course in 17 minutes, so the driver-less car with a 265-hp engine actually did OK!
The successful result proved that autonomous technology can handle difficult driving courses and conditions, engineers on the project said.
“By partnering with leading institutions in Silicon Valley we seek to bring innovative technologies into our vehicles and redefine what is possible,” said Dr. Burkhard Huhnke, director of the Electronic Research Lab in Palo Alto, Calif., which co-developed the Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak. “The goal is to improve driver safety and save lives by creating extremely robust electronics.”
“We are not trying to replace the driver,” said Professor Chris Gerdes of Stanford University, “Instead we want to learn how the best drivers control the car so we can develop systems that assist our robotic driver and, eventually, you and me.”
Working together, Audi, Stanford University, the Volkswagen Group Electronics Research Lab and Oracle developed a distinct engineering achievement. The Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak integrates advanced algorithms, the Oracle Java real-Time System (Java RTS), Oracle Solaris and GPS with safety and navigation systems found in stock Audi TTS models to maintain control at a physical performance extreme.
Java and Oracle Solaris provide a significant advancement over traditional execution models in terms of reliability, transparency, debugging capability, programming model, predictable response-time characteristics, and cost. Using the standard Java programming model and memory management functionality, developers were able to program the Autonomous Audi TTS to easily differentiate processes based on their importance and precisely determine when time-critical functions should be executed.
“Oracle Java RTS is the first enterprise-class solution to formally address the issues of latency and unpredictable response times for Java applications and we’re thrilled to be part of this research project,” said Greg Bollella, chief architect, Embedded Java, Oracle. “For the Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak, Java was used to acquire GPS position coordinates and distribute those coordinates to all of the other components in the system. It also served as the safety controller for the vehicle, responsible for gracefully bringing the car to a stop if any of the traditional systems malfunctioned.”