Audi Selects Thunderhill Raceway As A Key U.S. Test Bed For Piloted Driving Development


January 6, 2016 By Mike Lee
Last updated on January 6, 2016

Audi Selects Thunderhill Raceway As A Key U.S. Test Bed For Piloted Driving Development

  • Research conducted there will help engineers gather data on the dynamics of self-driving cars at elevated speeds
  • The aim is to anticipate extreme conditions a piloted driving car could face on public roads around the world to improve safety
  • Audi and its partners have used the Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, California, track for development of the technology in the past

Audi has selected Thunderhill Raceway Park in northern California as a key U.S. test center for advanced piloted driving research.

Under the multi-year partnership, engineers from Audi and the Electronics Research Lab in Belmont, Calif., will use the track to study how self-driving vehicles perform at the limits of speed. In this way, the engineers will understand how to calibrate the vehicle software and advanced driver assistance systems to handle sudden and extreme conditions.

Audi has stated it plans to introduce highly automated driving technology – which it calls piloted driving – with the next-generation Audi A8 sedan in a few years.  But steady research will continue as the capabilities of the technology rapidly improve, allowing the car to handle more of the driving functions.

Audi engineers, along with researchers deeply invested in self-driving technologies at Stanford University, have used the challenging courses at Thunderhill in the past. This new partnership provides even greater testing access. Audi experts will continue to develop piloted driving capabilities on surface streets and freeways to ready the initial deployment with the A8.

“Thunderhill provides a perfect setting to safely test the wide range of systems that will make highly automated driving a reality in the new future,” said Ewald Goessmann, Director, Electronics Research Lab.

“It is very exciting for our raceway to serve as a proving grounds for one of the most exciting automotive technologies on the horizon,” said David B. Vodden, President and CEO of Thunderhill Raceway Park.