After a self-driving Audi RS 7 prototype called “Bobby” set an impressive lap time around Germany’s Hockenheimring race track, the German automaker decided to try its hand at an American circuit. A new autonomous Audi RS 7, dubbed “Robby,” recently lapped California’s Sonoma Raceway in 2 minutes, 1 second — a time that Audi says is faster than a human driver managed at the helm of the RS 7.
Bobby and Robby are engineering exercises that allow Audi to continue developing the sensors, controllers, and software that will be used for autonomous cars. The Audi RS 7 lapped Sonoma without a human driver on board, faithfully hitting the 2.5-mile circuit’s corners time after time at speeds of up to 149 mph until it set the aforementioned lap time.
“We took the Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept to its physical limits lap after lap, and it handled the task with uniform precision,” Audi driver assistance systems manager Thomas Müller said in a statement. “The car turned in lap times that were better than those of sports car drivers.”
The Audi RS 7 packs a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine with 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. With an eight-speed automatic transmission sending power to all four wheels, Audi says the RS 7 will hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds before continuing to a top speed of 174 mph.