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Audi's Pikes Peak TT-S challenger

2009-11-13 08:20

Nicknamed Shelly in homage of Michele Mouton this TT-S, with only algorithms guiding its throttle, steering and brake actuation, will assault Pikes Peak on 27 June next year.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model TT-S
Engine 2l turbo
Power 200kW @ 6 000r/min
Torque 350Nm @ 2 500r/min
Transmission Six-speed
Weight 1 470kg
Partnering with a top US university, Audi is keen to assault the world’s greatest hill climb in a driverless TT-S.

The German manufacturer’s autonomous TT-S - nicknamed 'Shelly' - is set to contest the famous Pike’s Peak hill climb in Colorado next year without a driver at the helm of even remote control guidance.

Clever geeks go racing?

A joint venture project between Audi and Stanford University, the autonomous TT-S is being prepared to complete the Pikes Peak course in what Audi’s says will, "be a reasonable time using rally driving techniques."

We’ll take Audi’s statement as a euphemistic inference that the ‘Shelly’ TT-S won’t be a doting test vehicle just intent on finishing the 20km course, which ascends 1 434m to a finish line at 4 300m.

Shelly will be there to race and spectators can expect plenty of sideways action, eerily without a driver behind the wheel.

Looks like a stock 200kW TT-S Coupe with some elaborate navigation or mobile phone reception hardware sprouting from the roofline. In reality, it's much more complex.

Electronic everything

Although the TT-S in question runs stock drivetrain (it’s a dual-pedal S-tronic transmission version, obviously) everything else is significantly digitised.

The car’s steering has been extensively buoyed by electronics, featuring an axially parallel actuation-Braun-Schweig system. A what?

In plain parlance the newfangled steering set-up is essentially Audi’s production electric power steering system with direct by-wire control controlled via custom electronics by ERL, VW’s Palo Alto located research centre.

Throttle and brake action are actuated by VW ERL electronics too, which do an eerily accurate job on replicating driver pedal action. A Continental active brake booster has been wired up with the ERL by-wire drive electronics too.

When Shelly is static, ERL electronics interface with an electric VW Passat parking brake to ensure it doesn’t roll anywhere - something vitally important considering the gradient of the Pikes Peak marshalling area.

Audi's autonomous TT-S is researching the replication possibilities of dynamic performance driving and trying to usher in a future of collision free motoring.

Override control - only in an emergency

In the unlikely event of Shelly going rogue, the car has a Solaris based remote shut-down override system which runs Java RTS monitoring software.

A systems override can be enacted from distances as far as 30km, bringing the Shelly TT-S to a controlled stop.

This is the only time one would actually intervene, with Shelly set-up to autonomously at all times, even when parking.

Shelly has already posted a top sped run of 210km/h, which is pretty impressive for something without a driver behind the wheel or remote control operator doing the wheel corrections…

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