Audi pushes autonomy with concept cars

Audi concept car

Audi showed its autonomous driving strategy at the Frankfurt Motor Show with the new Audi A8 incorporating conditional automated driving at level three as standard. Two concept cars were also demonstrating the car maker’s vision for levels four and five.

The A8 is said to be the world’s first volume-production car to be designed for conditional automated driving at level three in accordance with international standards. On highways and multi-lane motorways with a physical barrier separating the two directions of traffic, the Audi AI traffic jam pilot takes over the driving task in slow-moving traffic up to 60kmph.

The system handles starting from a standstill, accelerating, steering and braking in its lane. If the traffic jam pilot is activated via the AI button on the centre console, the driver can take his or her foot off the accelerator and hands off the steering wheel for longer periods.

Unlike at level two, drivers no longer need to monitor the car permanently and, depending on current national regulations, can turn to other activities supported by the on-board infotainment system. Drivers must remain alert and capable of taking over the task of driving when the system prompts them to do so.

The traffic jam pilot is based on two technologies: the central driver assistance controller generates an image of the surroundings while driving by fusing sensor data as a second data fusion takes place in the radar control unit; and the laser scanner provides detailed information on vehicles cutting in and on the roadside peripheral structures, for instance.

The first concept car was an SUV coupé measuring 4.9m long. Based on the Audi E-Tron Sportback concept, it adopts the concept’s dynamic lines, progressive lighting technology, functionally elegant interior and the electric Quattro drive with three electric motors and a combined peak output of 370 kW.

It uses artificial intelligence and machine learning networked seamlessly with the cloud and with other vehicles (car-to-X) – giving the capability to learn and think in a proactive and empathetic way. It provides information for the highway pilot, which can take over the driving task at speeds of up to 130kmph and automatically change lane.

The second concept car is heading autonomously into the future. It offers its occupants freedoms where they no longer have to concentrate on road traffic.

The concept car is designed primarily for long journeys. It is powered by four electric motors. The car is situated in the D segment, the automotive top tier, and has a range of between 700 and 800km.

Audi and Here Technologies are forging closer links. In the A8, the car maker is already using multiple services and technologies from Here, such as software for digital navigation maps and location-based services. Audi has a stake in Here, with both companies looking to work together more closely.

• A more detailed look at one of the Audi concept cars will be featured in the October 2017 issue of Vehicle Electronics.

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