Audi's autonomous A7 Sportback named 'Jack' has successfully completed the 560 mile drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas. Audi tried last year to have a robot car drive to CES in Vegas, but a driver was forced to take over. This year, however, the car pulled it off and is now in Vegas, likely cheating at blackjack.
Jack the Audi drove on regular roads, through real-world traffic and situations, though when the car approached an urban area, it passed control back to the (allegedly) human driver. Or, as Audi puts it in much more detail:
Before the piloted driving system reaches its limitations, in city environments for example, the driver is requested to take control of the vehicle to ensure proper safety. Multiple warning signales work in unison: colored LEDs at the base of the windshield, signals in the driver information display, a Central Status Indicator (CSI), as well as a acoustic warning indicator requires the driver to retake control.
I'd like to think the Central Status Indicator is one of those red light bulbs in a protective cage, and the "acoustic warning indicator" is a deafening robotic voice chanting ALERT ALERT AUTODRIVE SYSTEM DISENGAGED ALERT ALERT! But I don't think it is.
The system will drive the car at speeds ranging from 0-70 MPH, and it can pass, change lanes, and adapt speed as needed, of course. An Audi test driver was along for the entire trip, in the passenger's seat, and every 100 miles the car stopped to pick up journalists and members of the public to experience the simultaneously astounding and boring act of being driven across a long, flat highway in a self-controlled car.
Audi used the hashtag #drivingnotdriving to reference Jack The Audi's trip, and there's a number of tweets about the car and inside views of people not driving, along with some random, unrelated tweets about not driving in crappy weather and kids getting learners' permits.
Other tweets show some of the entourage of cars Jack was driving with, including a VW van I don't believe we normally see in the US:
While Jack is technically just a concept, Audi claims all the sensors and control systems are 'production ready' and we can expect to see these components in cars quite soon, with the Audi Q7 getting the " hi-resolution, wide-angle 3D video camera" first.
Future plans for Jack the Audi aren't clear, though some reports suggest he was last seen driving to a remote set of garages off the strip with a vivid pink '82 Corvette. Attempts to ping Jack Audi's GPS and recorder system have failed, suggesting a policy that what data is recorded within the greater Las Vegas GPS coordinates will remain stored in said location.