If you’re driving on the I-15 and find yourself being passed by a car with no driver, don’t panic. That’s just Audi’s self-driving A7 making the trek from San Fransisco to Las Vegas for CES 2015.
— Audi (@Audi) January 5, 2015
The 550-mile drive is the first long-distance test of the German automaker’s autonomous car. The vehicle making the trip, nicknamed “Jack,” has been outfitted with side- and rear-facing radar sensors, laser scanners, and a 3D video camera which is supported by four other tiny cameras to create a clearer view of the road. The “piloted driving” system also makes uses of existing Audi technology, including its adaptive cruise control and side assist features.
— kim reynolds (@MT_Reynolds) January 5, 2015
Jack is capable of driving between zero and 70 miles per hour without the need for manual controls. It can also change lanes and make passes on its own. The self-driving A7 has only been optimized for freeways, though. When approaching an urban area, the car alerts the driver and relinquishes control.
The vehicle may also have troubles in construction zones and unexpected weather, as the piloted driving system monitors the lane lines to guide its path. Should those lines disappear from view, the A7 switches over to GPS and monitors the distance from other traffic on the road.
Audi has invited journalists along for the trip, giving each one about 100 miles behind the driver’s seat. The idea is they’ll never have to touch the wheel. Should anything go wrong, a professional driver is making the trip in the passenger seat.
If all goes according to plan—and if Jack isn’t bored to tears by the monotonous journey—the car and its accompanying journalists and engineers will arrive at CES on Tuesday morning. You can watch the progress of Jack on Twitter by following @Audi or the hashtag #DrivingNotDriving.