Adaptive cruise control is already trickling down to the mass market, and the more sophisticated systems found on vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class are clearly coming, as well. If you're a little adventurous, live in California and drive an Audi, you might be able to upgrade to the next stage of driverless tech even sooner. A San Francisco start-up called Cruise Automation is launching an aftermarket autopilot system called the RP1 for $10,000, with deliveries starting in 2015.
The RP1 is designed for 2012 and newer Audi A4 and S4 models. Although, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt told Autoblog in an email: "There's no reason we can't expand to other cars, and we will." The system includes a sensor pod on the roof containing cameras, radar and other sensors to scan the road ahead. It then sends data to a small computer mounted on the side of the trunk. The desired inputs are then made by actuators for the steering, brakes and throttle to control the car. A button in the cabin activates the autopilot and controls the desired speed. Not completely unlike Audi's own, developmental, semiautonomous system.
At this point, the RP1 is somewhere between an adaptive cruise control system and an autonomous vehicle. It can control all of the cars inputs and even bring it down to a complete stop and then accelerate again. However, it only works on select highways in California. "We use geofencing to limit the areas of operation to segments of highway in which we've collected enough data to ensure our customers' safety," said Vogt to Autoblog.
The idea of upgrading your car into a semi-autonomous vehicle is certainly novel. Although it's pricy at the moment; the first 50 preorders start at $10,000 each, which includes installation.