Audi's Aicon concept car is all about autonomous luxury

The autonomous EV that’s so safe, you won’t need seat belts.

Roberto Baldwin / Engadget

At the Frankfurt auto show, Audi unveiled its fully autonomous Aicon concept car. The "design study" showcases the automaker's vision of a world without steering wheels, pedals or the stress of driving.

The autonomous EV will have a range up to 800 kilometers (497 miles). There's also the luxurious interior (the automaker compares it to first-class seating), which includes swivel chairs that lean back and have integrated touch controls. It's perfect for overnight long-distance driving. Or just cruising through the countryside.

To keep you in the know, the Aicon also uses Audi's artificial intelligence assistant PIA to offer up services before the passengers ask for them, based on situations and historical learning. But that's not all. The car would also have eye tracking, with support for voice commands and gesture controls. Basically, it's all the things crammed into a silver tourer.

The company also envisions a world filled with sensor-heavy cars avoiding one another and obstacles so well that restraint systems (seat belts) will no longer be needed. That, of course, relies on all cars being as safe, and it's going to take a very long time for that to happen (if it ever does).

Still, it's not hard to imagine a world where luxury autonomous cars cater to the same people who fly first class and have AMEX Black Cards. The Aicon may seem like pie-in-the-sky science fiction today, but in a few decades it could be how the rich tour the countryside.