The annual Frankfurt Motor Show often provides a stage for revealing the automobile technology of tomorrow. This year, the highlight of showcased innovations was undoubtedly the vehicles presented by Audi, each offering a window into the future of autonomous vehicles. Though cloaked in the carmaker’s signature layer of luxury, the ultimate takeaway is that Audi has their sights set on making driving a more safer and less stressful experience.
The key to understanding the extent to which Audi’s parts innovations are likely to increase road safety and reduce stress requires one to think outside the box a little bit. In part, due to the popularity of the term “self-driving cars” we tend to think that’s all they do, but Audi is out to show these vehicles can do so much more than the miracle of self-driving.
For instance, the semi-autonomous new A8, which is self-driving up to about 37mph, will include Audi parts like the new onboard computer capable of monitoring systems and offering services on the go. It may not be the 2018 model, but soon an A8 will be produced which can assess the performance of Audi engine parts, brakes, exhaust and other key Audi parts and components to provide an instant diagnosis. Rather than the car owner being in charge of detecting a problem and arranging it to be serviced, the car itself can identify the failing Audi parts and place an order on auto part distributor’s sites such as eEuroparts.com for Audi replacement parts all by the the end of a morning commute.
To this end, Audi sees autonomy as being far more than a vehicle’s ability to drive itself. This new technological paradigm shift gives carmakers the chance to turn their vehicles into more than chauffeurs; almost personal assistants on wheels. Demonstrating this further are several more interesting attributes of their new car reveals, such as the ability to learn the music tastes of various passengers and even which level of lighting they prefer during travels.
It goes without saying, however, that safety matters far more than the available autonomous and semi-autonomous creature comforts. Regarding the A8, the vehicle is rated at level-three autonomous vehicle (out of 5). This essentially means that the car can drive itself, but still needs someone behind the wheel to control some of the Audi’s parts in certain situations. In the case of the semi-autonomous A8 the driver is needed to take over when the vehicle reaches speeds in excess of 37 miles per hour.
The Audi concept cars unveiled at the most recent Frankfurt Motor Show, dubbed Elaine and Aicon, show what the A8 will be equipped with in few years time. These vehicles are fully autonomous and therefore provide a layer of safety unparalleled on the roads today, save for the handful of prototypes tightly monitored.
The Elaine concept is a coupe SUV, if you can imagine that, which is mostly inspired by the e-tron Sportback that Audi was showing off back in April of this year. The Elaine dual electric motors work together to generate 429 horsepower, with self-driving capabilities possible up to 81 miles per hour.
The Aicon concept car looks a lot more like the sleek and stylish future we’re familiar with when it comes to the electric powered autonomous vehicles of tomorrow. This is particularly the case in the cabin, where standard Audi parts such as steering wheel and pedals are absent entirely. Additionally, Audi wants passenger controls to be available no matter where a person happens to be seated. Speaking of seating, the automaker has concluded most people don’t like the idea of facing backward when a car is in motion, and therefore the Aicon seats only swivel 20 degrees in either direction.
Lastly, we must comment on style. They are taking a stand by resisting the urge to maintain vestigial body style parts, mainly the radiator grille. Since these vehicles lack traditional Audi parts such as a radiator and coolant system, there’s no actual need for the grill we otherwise see on cars today. However, Audi acknowledges the need to easily identify the front of a vehicle for safety reasons, and therefore created a cosmetic upgrade to replace the grille without disguising the front of the car. This is exhibited by both the Elaine and Aicon concepts.
More safety, less stress, and bold style ooze from the new Audi lineup. Let’s hope it makes a strong impression across the entire automobile industry.