Video: Human beats Robby the autonomous RS7 at the track

We all know Robby pretty well by now. Robby is Audi’s autonomous RS7 race car that was able to lap several different race tracks on its own and put down extremely fast lap times. It’s also worth mentioning just how consistent Robby was with its laps. At the FAST Parcmotor raceway, in Barcelona, Spain, Robby was able to put down 2:09 lap times. Four times in a row. So it clearly knows how to use a racing line.

Well, a human, but the name of Vincent Nguyen, of Slash Gear, decided to take Robby on and see if he could be faster. So after Robby set its lap time of 2:09:237, Vincent gave it a try and a nearly identical RS7. The only advantage for Vincent was that his RS7 was just a bit lighter than Robby, even with him in the car. Audi did a great job of lightening Robby up, by taking out all of the superfluous gizmos and gadgets, to get it close to that of the stock car, but it’s still heavier. So Vincent had a bit of an advantage in terms of weight, but Robby uses high-tech GPS monitoring to perfect its racing line, so it has a bit of an advantage there. Plus, a computer can’t lose its nerve when entering a corner hot, like a human can. So it will be interesting to see who wins.

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Autonomous Audi RS7
Autonomous Audi RS7

Vincent is able to, with just a warm up lap and one timed lap, beat Robbies time by about half of a second. Vincent completed his lap in 2:08:807, so just a about four tenths of a second between the two. Firstly, that’s impressive that a human with little practice or experience could beat a computer engineered to be fast around the track, even if it was only by a bit. Secondly, it’s mighty impressive that a computer-controlled car could lap the track in that amount of time. If that’s the kind of time that an amateur driver was able to put down, then Robby is incredibly fast for a machine.

The video is really interesting to watch Robby autonomously drive around a circuit without any interaction. The only interaction between man and machine is that fact that there’s a person in the driver’s seat hold a dead man’s switch, so if anything goes wrong the passenger simply let’s go of the switch which shuts the autonomous program down and puts the car back into the control of the driver. Other than that, Robbie lapped the track on its own, quickly and consistently. But, despite all of its clever programming and GPS view of the track, the human eye and hand was still faster. Thankfully.

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Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.