The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a playground for geeks of all genres. Car lovers from around the world have been salivating at the thought of the new fully-autonomous Audi A8 concept car that rumors said would be revealed at the event. As it turns out, there was something to those rumors. Piloted Driving, or near-autonomous vehicles with a driver actively reviewing each decision, are all the rage right now, and Audi's past few offerings have really whetted the appetite for something special this year. So what’s the deal with the A8? Let’s take a look.
Moving Toward Autonomy
Vehicles that are currently in production today have many of the features that fully-autonomous vehicles of the future will have, including self-parking, backup and lane-change sensors and more. The difference is that piloted driving cars should be able to handle it all on their own without any assistance from a driver. Audi already showed off a self-driving car when it unleashed its RS7 Piloted Driving Concept on the Kockenheim circuit. The car used special GPS signals and 3D cameras to navigate the track in real time. In the two minutes it took to get around the track, the car didn't make a single error. With the early success of this model, we couldn’t help but imagine what the A8 is capable of.
The Future of Design
Far from the gull wings of the DeLorean from "Back to the Future," many concept cars today look very similar to production cars, but it is what inside that makes a difference. Hidden under a relatively sedate exterior, the Audi A8 concept car packs a plethora of advances that Audi states will be "offering an outlook on the automotive future." This isn’t entirely surprising, as Audi is known for stunning simplicity in their styles. Audi executives kept quiet on any details about the A8's features ahead of CES. Rumors and news articles hinted that the car would be able to drive up to 40 mph, navigate traffic and find its own parking spot.
So how did the Audi A8 hold up to those rumors? The concept really is something. The interior features a setup Audi is calling “Virtual Dashboard,” a screen-heavy system. The top screen will give drivers their basic information — navigation, audio, settings, etc. — while the bottom screen provides favorite and climate control buttons. Both screens provide haptic feedback, and buttons will only activate if you actually press them, meaning you can rest your finger on the screen without sending your setting and controls flying.
In addition to the interior concept, Audi revealed that is it working to expand the car’s range of connected car services to include traffic sign recognition and hazard information. In this way, connected cars will be able to communicate with each other to report accidents. And, it’s true: the car will be able to drive up to 37 mph and park itself, whether the driver is in the car or not.
Many of the advances by Audi and other luxury car makers are focused on safety, and we couldn't agree with this direction more. While fatality rates continue to drop from their highest points in the late 1960s, passenger vehicles still take a terrible toll on the U.S. population with tens of thousands dying each year. While current self-driving vehicles are generally focused on working effectively at lower speeds, the real safety gain will be when these vehicles can safely travel at interstate speeds. Dozens of small improvements are made each year by automotive manufacturers, but there's still clearly work to be done. Audi execs hope the A8's piloted driving will reduce the number of accidents and save lives. In an interview with AutoWeek, Ricky Hudi, executive vice president of electronics at Audi, said, “Piloted driving is going to save lives. In that context we are convinced it should be permitted.”
Service Levels that Excite
Just as we get excited about the potential of self-driving vehicles, there are a number of great advances in the past few years with Audi and other high-end vehicles, both imports and domestics. At Concierge Auto Repair we understand the concept of service and have built our name on it. When you need import auto repair for your vehicle, give us a call. We will bring our legendary auto repair service to you with our concierge pick-up and delivery service to get you on the road quickly.