German carmaker Audi has set a claimed speed record of 230 km/h at the Hockenheim circuit with a driverless car piloted by a battery of sensors and a 3D camera.
There were plenty of electronic gizmos on board but no driver at the wheel when the RS 7 Sportback powered off the starting grid. The record was set during this year's final of the DTM touring car championships racing series.
The driverless car performed on the 4.57-kilometre circuit south of Frankfurt just as if a professional race driver had ben at the controls. It covered a Hockenheim lap in less than two minutes.
The four-wheel-drive RS 7 car is powered by a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine rated at 552 horsepower.
Audi said the test showed just how far driverless technology has come although the Volkswagen-owned company has no present plans to launch an autonomous model. Data from the test would be used to develop state-of-the-art driver assistance systems.
In Germany road traffic laws would need to be completely overhauled before robot cars could legally take to the roads.
©2014 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)