On October 19, at the Hockenheimring during a break in the racing before the final round of the German DTM Touring Car Championship, a self-driving Audi RS7 will haul some robotic ass around the track. Audi's hoping for a lap time of right around two minutes and expects to see 149 MPH.
Other autonomous cars have been on tracks before — in fact, back in 2012, Audi had a TTS named 'Shelley' hit 120 MPH at Thunderhill in California. And that's not even counting all of Herbie's exploits on the track in the '60s and '70s.
This robotic race run, though, is likely the most public demonstration of an autonomous car on a track to date, and that says a lot about Audi's confidence in the technology.
Really, though, a lap of an empty racetrack, even at high speed, is likely a good deal easier than a low-speed drive through normal city traffic, with other cars and cyclists and pedestrians and animals and idiots of every stripe and species, most of which drive cars.
They say the car is expected to perform "approximately as fast as with a professional race driver at the wheel," which is both impressive and disheartening all at once.
Reports that Audi would follow the driverless car's lap with one from a carless driver have so far proven unfounded.