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Man vs. Audi’s Self-Driving RS7

by Paul Strauss

We recently got to see how Audi’s autonomous RS7 was able to handle itself on a track at racing speed. But how does this robotic car handle itself compared to a human driver? Our friend Vincent Nguyen over at SlashGear was fortunate enough to be in attendance at Hockenheimring during Audi’s media event for the self-driving RS7, and they let him test his time against the autonomous car.

In the video clip above, you’ll see a side-by-side comparison of the self-driving car with Vincent in the passenger seat vs. Vincent driving himself around the German race circuit. While it might look like there’s a driver in the autonomous car (on the left), he was just seated there for added safety – the car was driving itself.

The results of the race might surprise you, but this is one case where the human outperformed the robotic driver, with Vincent completing his lap in about seven fewer seconds than the autonomous car. But that’s not the whole story. Apparently, Audi didn’t want to risk any damage to the robotic car due to a wet track, so it was limited to 86% of its potential speed during this test, whereas the lowly human doesn’t possess such common sense, and went for maximum speed, despite the conditions.

Later in the day, as the track dried out, the self-driving Audi was upped to 93% of its potential, and proved its metal, handily beating out Vincent’s earlier time by about two seconds, though it’s not exactly a fair comparison since Vincent didn’t get a chance to drive it again on the dry pavement.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s still really impressive that an autonomous car can keep up with the split-second decisions required on a race track at speeds nearing 150mph. Be sure to head on over to SlashGear for more details on the technology behind Audi’s self-driving cars.

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