Audi is taking piloted driving to model cars: Ten student teams will face off in the Audi Autonomous Driving Cup to find the best piloted model car. Audi provides the hardware – a 1:8-scale Audi Q5* – and the young experts develop the software.

Audi is hosting the inaugural Driving Cup, which is intended primarily for students in computer science, electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. Ten teams will be competing against each other at a public event at the Audi Museum Mobile on March 25 and 26, 2015. “Our competition course will serve as the proving ground for the young experts’ software. Oncoming and intersecting traffic, tricky parking situations and obstacles that suddenly appear will put their programming precision to the test,” said Björn Giesler, one of the organizers of the competition.

An electric motor accelerates the all-wheel-drive model cars up to 40 km/h (24.9 mph). The students are provided with a basic software package for the competition, from which they develop their own software architecture that processes sensor data to interpret the situation and control the car accordingly. The goal for the student teams is to complete the course quickly with as few errors as possible. Points are deducted for accidents, lost time and imprecise execution. The team scoring the most points wins 10,000 euros. Second prize is 5,000 euros; third prize 1,000 euros.

The resemblance between the model cars and their full-size counterparts is more than just visual: The development environment for the software is the exact same one used to test driver assistance systems. According to Giesler, some of the challenges are in fact very similar to those encountered with automobiles in production development. “The measurement sensors in the models have to work just as precisely as those in their big brothers. We are excited to see the innovative solutions the students come up with.”

A video about the Audi Autonomous Driving Cup 2015 can be found here.

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