Movies have given car manufacturers the opportunity to show off their latest models for many years now – the recent blockbuster Spider-Man: Homecoming is no exception. Showing the new Audi A8 luxury sedan in all of its technological glory in the movie does nothing short of skyrocket public interest in the car. With level three autonomy and a mild hybrid engine, the car is the pinnacle of German engineering and shows a glimpse of the automaker’s autonomous future.
Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, an Audi board member, said the car embraces Audi’s heritage, as well as showcases the potential of the future. The Audi AI Traffic Jam Pilot has the capability of moving the car along autonomously while stuck in gridlock on the highway – without input from the driver. The A8 has the ability to accelerate, steer, brake, and start from a dead stop. The car’s abilities aren’t limitless, however – after 37 miles per hour, or if the car senses that it can’t continue operating autonomously, the driver will have to take over. But while the car is operating itself, drivers and passengers alike can focus on non-driving activities, such as watching the on-board TV.
Autonomy will not be supported worldwide, however. The A8’s abilities will vary with local laws – an A8 in Germany, for example, may have more abilities (or autonomous features) than an A8 in Brazil. As autonomy has become more commonplace, countries have been adapting to the rapidly changing technology, tweaking laws and regulations to keep drivers safe. The semi-autonomous system itself is powered by the new Audi AI system that will soon be added to all new Audi vehicles. An Audi spokesman said that this step is keeping Audi ahead of others, and shows that the manufacturer is walking the extra mile.
The Audi AI system is chalked full of technological innovations – it boasts a 48-volt active electromechanical suspension platform and a front-facing camera that scans the road ahead 18 times per second. This allows Audi vehicles to predict how the electronic chassis platform should handle situations. This, along with air suspension, should provide drivers with a smoother ride (because each tire is controlled by its own electric motor.) The suspension system is coupled with Audi’s new all-wheel steering system, and Audi says it will give the A8 a sporty feel and smaller turning radius. The A8 will also have a mild-hybrid drive vehicle drivetrain. Because this is a luxury vehicle, it also has a foot massager in the back seat. Practical? No. Cool as hell? Yes. Audi has yet to announce a sell date for its new sedan.