Startup will make your Audi A4 self-driving for $10k [w/video]

  • Image Credit: Cruise Automation
We are on the cusp of the next generation of semi-autonomous driving technology becoming affordable. Adaptive cruise control is already trickling down to the mass market, and the more sophisticated systems found on vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are clearly coming, as well. If you're a little adventurous, live in California and drive an Audi, you might be able to upgrade to the next stage of driverless tech even sooner. A San Francisco start-up called Cruise Automation is launching an aftermarket autopilot system called the RP1 for $10,000, with deliveries starting in 2015.

The RP1 is designed for 2012 and newer Audi A4 and S4 models. Although, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt told Autoblog in an email: "There's no reason we can't expand to other cars, and we will." The system includes a sensor pod on the roof containing cameras, radar and other sensors to scan the road ahead. It then sends data to a small computer mounted on the side of the trunk. The desired inputs are then made by actuators for the steering, brakes and throttle to control the car. A button in the cabin activates the autopilot and controls the desired speed. Not completely unlike Audi's own, developmental, semiautonomous system.

At this point, the RP1 is somewhere between an adaptive cruise control system and an autonomous vehicle. It can control all of the cars inputs and even bring it down to a complete stop and then accelerate again. However, it only works on select highways in California. "We use geofencing to limit the areas of operation to segments of highway in which we've collected enough data to ensure our customers' safety," said Vogt to Autoblog.

The idea of upgrading your car into a semi-autonomous vehicle is certainly novel. Although it's pricy at the moment; the first 50 preorders start at $10,000 each, which includes installation. Scroll down to watch a brief video of how the RP1 works and read the company's official announcement.
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Elevator Pitch:
Cruise is the first highway autopilot for your car. It uses cameras and radar to keep your car in its lane and a safe distance from the car in front of you.

Join the driverless revolution

We're building a safer and more efficient world.

Company Facts:
● Official name is Cruise Automation, Inc. (referred to as just "Cruise")
● Founded in November 2013 by Kyle Vogt
● Approximately 8 employees, mostly engineers from MIT
● Headquarters in San Francisco

Product Info:
● Product name is the Cruise RP­1
● Installed on existing vehicles at our facility in San Francisco
● Supports 2012 or newer Audi A4 or S4 vehicles
● Initial production run of 50 units, taking reservations after the first 50
● Starting presales on Monday June 23rd
● Installs are scheduled to begin in early 2015
● Price is $10,000 including installation

What does it do?
Simply drive onto an approved highway, move into a lane, and hit the Cruise button. The Cruise RP­1 will take control of your steering, braking, and acceleration to keep you in your lane and a safe distance from the car in front of you. It will automatically slow down for traffic, even to a complete stop if needed, and will accelerate once the traffic clears.

While the Cruise RP­1 is an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS), it does not take the place of a human driver. The driver of the vehicle is still responsible for actively monitoring the road, obeying all traffic laws, and being ready to take over if needed.

How does it work?

The Cruise RP­1 has three components:
1. Sensor pod ­ A small pod is mounted to the roof of your vehicle near the windshield. It
contains cameras, radar, and other sensors that are used by a computer to understand what's happening around your vehicle.

2. Computer ­ A computation is mounted in your trunk. It runs off of your cars electrical system and uses less than one cubic foot of trunk space.

3. Actuators ­ The Cruise RP­1 uses actuators tucked away in the driver's side footwell to control your steering, braking, and acceleration. They're completely hidden from view and don't get in the way when not in use.

Is it safe?
Cruise is continuously conducting safety testing with trained operators. By the time the product is ready for customer use, it will have gone the same kinds of road testing and independent third party testing that most automotive companies use for their new products. While this isn't required by law, we are leveraging the decades of best practices from the automotive world to ensure the safety of our customers and other drivers on the road.

Highway accidents kill 33,000 Americans every year, and 90% of these accidents are caused by human error. Since technology to improve highway safety is possible today, we feel it's our responsibility to bring it to market quickly to avoid these unnecessary deaths.

Audi A4 Information

Audi A4

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