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Audi Demonstrates the Peak of Intentional Acceleration

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author photo by Autotrader June 2010

"Some time soon, maybe even the fourth quarter of this year, an Audi TTS is going to make the climb up Pikes Peak in Colorado," said Johan de Nysschen, head of Audi's American operations.

Pikes Peak holds a special place in motorsport. It's the venue for a hill climb event that snakes 12.4 miles up to the summit, which is 14,110 feet above sea level. If a driver fell off the road, his clothes would be out of fashion by the time he hit the bottom. Daunting hardly begins to describe it.

Sounds like a nice challenging project for Audi's cute coupe, but here's the clincher: "There will be no one in the driver's seat."

All that's standing between the car and a catastrophic brush with gravity is a raft of fiendishly clever electronic systems. These have been developed in a joint project with the Electronic Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, and Stanford University. The idea is to show the motoring public that cars and computers are in fact a good mix and don't necessarily have to end up in cases of alleged unintended acceleration.

"We're not trying to eliminate the need for drivers or the pleasure of driving," said de Nysschen. "But by demonstrating that we can do the unimaginable, and do it safely, we will prove that these technologies deserve our customers' trust. Audi is following in the footsteps of Elisha Otis by creating a dramatic demonstration."

The good Mr. Otis of elevator fame once performed a stunt in 1853 where he rode a platform to the top of P.T. Barnum's Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York and then cut the retaining ropes with a saber. To the crowd's delight (and no doubt his relief), a fail-safe innovation held the platform in place.

Here's another challenge for the autonomous Audi. The Pikes Peak record time currently stands at 10 minutes, 1.4 seconds. How about shaving a few tenths off?

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Audi Demonstrates the Peak of Intentional Acceleration - Autotrader