Audi hasn't had the best season in DTM racing this year, and they may have found a solution: Remove the drivers.
During the season finale at the Hockenheim on October 19, the brand will demonstrate the latest progression of their automated – they prefer the term, "piloted" – technology, rolling out a driverless Audi RS 7 for a lap of the track that they say could reach 149.1 mph.
Of course, the RS 7 is no slouch. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 engine with 552 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft of torque, the RS 7 can easily tick off 0-60 mph runs in less than four seconds. I would watch an RS 7 attack a race track any day. Doing it without anyone in the driver's seat? I'll be glued to the screen.
What's more, Audi also says they're expecting a lap time of just over two minutes, which is about as fast as a professional racecar driver would do. Considering that BMW driver Marco Wittman has already wrapped up the season championship, and that the Bavarians also lead Audi by 20 points in the manufacturer standings heading into the final race, the idea of a driverless racecar might have guys named Mortara and Rockenfeller shaking in their boots a little bit.
More likely, though, Audi is less interested in a driverless racecar than showing off their Piloted program to attract future sales. Audi has made it very clear that they intend to bring automated vehicles to market, and putting one around a track could show that their technology acts safely and precisely – even at high speeds.
Anyone worried that the demonstration means that driverless cars are coming to racing needn't fret. They're much more likely to be next to you on the highway.