After a sneak peak of the vehicle parking itself and appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the Audi A8 luxury sedan is finally being shown off in all its high-tech glory. With level-3 autonomy, active electronic suspension, a mild hybrid engine and brand new infotainment system, it's the future of the German automaker's vehicles.
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At the forefront is the car's level-3 autonomous features. "It embodies our heritage as well as our future," said Audi board member Dr Dietmar Voggenreiter. The Audi AI Traffic Jam Pilot will move the car along autonomously while stuck in gridlock both on the highway and without input from the driver.
The car takes care of acceleration, steering, braking and starting from a dead stop and does so without the driver having to pay attention up to 37 miles per hour. Audi notes that drivers, "can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and, depending on the national laws, focus on a different activity that is supported by the car, such as watching the on-board TV." The driver can't completely check out though, if the car determines it can no longer safely drive on its own, the human will have to take over. That means no naps.
It's also important to note that the level of autonomy available to drivers will be determined by the local laws. An A8 on one country might be have more self-driving abilities than one in a country with stricter regulations.
The semi-autonomous system is powered by the newly-branded Audi AI system that will soon be added to all new vehicles from the automaker. It also announced Vorsprung, which Audi board member Rupert Stadler said means the company is, "walking the extra mile and staying ahead of others, trying to develop the most convenient solutions to our auto woes."
Audi says the conceptual car from the movie iRobot is realized -- at least the autonomous part -- with the new A8. Will Smith would be proud. No word on if the A8 is capable of battling renegade automatons.
The system rides on the automaker's 48-volt active electromechanical suspension platform. With its front-facing camera, Audi says is scans the road ahead 18 times a second to actively predict with the electronic chassis platform (ECP) and primes how the suspension should handle the situation. In conjunction with air suspension, the system should produce a smoother ride as each tire is controlled by its own electric motor that's adjusted on the fly for potholes, corners or hard stops.
The new suspension is coupled with Audi's new all-wheel steering system. Audi says it'll improve stability while giving the A8 a sporty feel and smaller turning radius than the A4.
The new A8 will also have the mild-hybrid drive vehicle (MHEV) drivetrain. It combines a alternator connected to the crankshaft that's powered by a lithium-ion battery which allows the vehicle to coast at speeds between 34 and 99 miles per hour for 40 seconds with the engine firing. So it's not a hybrid like the Prius or Audi's on e-tron plug-in hybrid.
A new infotainment system was also on display in the new vehicle. This is Audi's latest generation of its MMI dash with haptic feedback and multiple displays. And of course it wouldn't be a luxury sedan without some over-the-top features like a foot massager for the back seat. No word on when the new 2019 A8 is expected to go on sale.