From this article in the Tampa Tribune, the governor of Florida took a test drive in the prototype Audi vehicle equipped with what they call the traffic jam pilot. The test did have some glitches, but overall it is very promising with Audi hoping to have this technology available for purchase within 5 years.
It sounds like the feature allows for speed adjustment up to 40 mph and it will follow your lane while engaged. I’ll see if I can get some more info about Audi’s planned implementation of autonomous driving.
I did a bit more reading about the Audi A7 self-driving car. They call it the “A7 Autonomous”. It looks like they either first presented it, or at least had a major presentation at the 2014 CES show in Las Vegas in January 2014. Their implantation uses a combination of lasers, radar, and cameras to evaluate the road in front and detect blind spots around them. The system isn’t meant to be a complete self-driving system, at least not in the current iteration. The system is set-up to give the driver a break when the car is under 40 mph, keeping the car in its lane and maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of you, even if someone pulls in front of you.
So, it seems like it starts with an advanced adaptive cruise control, combined with advanced lane maintenance. Audi refers to it as “piloted driving” at this stage, which is several steps before fully autonomous vehicles. It makes sense that features will be introduced into available vehicles in stages, as the technology advances and can be tested.
One of the most impressive aspects of Audi’s implementation is that all of the equipment is hidden within the car. There are no large devices on the roof or anywhere else that are visible.
It isn’t for the A7, but Cruise offers an aftermarket option for the Audi A4/S4. At $10k, it is a reasonable priced option, especially considering it will likely be in use in early 2015.