Don’t Drive Your Own Autonomous Car For $10K, but only if you have an Audi

ces-audi-self-driving-car-452562 The autonomous car is basically here and it won’t be long before they are available at dealerships everywhere. However, you can skip the wait if you have ten grand on hand after buying a new Audi.

Autonomous Car That Is Audi This World

Yes, that’s a horrible pun and I REGRET NOTHING. However, those who want to have an autonomous car before everyone else does (cell phone nuts, I’m looking at you) can get one for the not too princely sum of $10,000, according to Jalopnik, but there are some catches, addendums and quid-pro-quos.

The company that will make a car autonomous is called Cruise, and they can only work with Audis and at that, only with the A4 or S4 from the 2012 model year or later. The San Francisco start-up is looking to have its first self-driving Audis hitting the road by early 2015, according to Forbes, as they are currently accepting orders for the RP-1 – the name they’ve given their conversion kit.

It doesn’t amount to much, either. A sensor array and GPS antenna is placed on the roof, actuators get plugged into the steering, braking and acceleration systems, a computer control module goes in the trunk and off you go.

Finally, an Audi that won’t tailgate

Cruise’s RP-1 system relies on the same technology as the Google Driverless Car. You integrate GPS, mapping, and the electronic controls of the car to create a self-driving car. Since most mechanical systems in cars are electronically controlled (including steering), it’s not as difficult as it sounds; one simply needs a system that automates it.

Since late-model Audis have adaptive cruise control (as do many other luxury cars; Mercedes actually invented it), the car’s sensors can detect vehicles in it’s proximity and automatically take over steering to avoid a crash. Granted, that hasn’t stopped a lot of Audi drivers from tailgating, because that’s the kind of people who drive them.

Audi has even been working on an autonomous driving system of its own; in 2013, according to Car and Driver, the automaker took a prototype A7 equipped with “Audi Connect,” a system which uses parking sensors to find a parking spot in a garage. The car could even be controlled via a smartphone app; the driver can exit the car, tell it to park and order it to come pick them up. It debuted at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. However, according to Forbes, Audi has further refined the technology and created what they call “Piloted Driving,” a self-driving system for stop-and-go traffic.


Some distance to go

The Cruise RP-1 is still being developed at the moment, so the first few to reserve one won’t exactly be taking delivery tomorrow. However, even a new A4 plus the RP-1 is much less than the cost of a Google Driverless Car, which cost $75,000 to $100,000 per. Cruise see the RP-1 as an enhanced cruise control; the idea is to engage the system on the highway and then sit back and enjoy the scenery.

It has a few drawbacks, however. You can’t use it outside of the Bay Area. It also doesn’t work in the rain, or fog. Or the dark. But hey, in a year or two…those bugs might be worked out and if car makers’ tricks (like premium features only being available with premium trims), the Cruise RP-1 might actually be a way to upgrade on the cheap – at least for Audi drivers.

Those tailgating swine.