Audi has ventured into the autonomous segment by showcasing a concept car without pedals and steering wheel. Audi has billed its Aicon concept car as the autonomous Audi of the future. The four-door 2+2 seater gives an idea of what the exterior and interior of Audi vehicles will look like in the future. When it comes to technology, the technology demonstrator had many innovations related to the drivetrain, suspension, digitalization and sustainability. The Aicon is meant to be a pure electric vehicle and ideally should be able to cover between 700 and 800 kilometres on a single charge.
Audi Aicon gives a glimpse of what mobility would look like in the future by effectively combining the advantages of door-to-door individual transportation with a highly luxurious ambiance in the interiors. Without a steering wheel or pedals to take up space in the cabin, there is more flexibility when it comes to the design, ergonomics and placement of the controls for modern communications electronics.
In terms of looks, the concept car is impressive, with strongly flared wheel wells and fully digital display surfaces comprising hundreds of pixel segments instead of conventional headlights. The car uses animations animations on its display surfaces to warn pedestrians or cyclists of dangerous situations.
Different kinds of driving modes like platooning, urban driving or driving at a walking pace are available.
Horizontal stripes of light move from the bottom up when the car accelerates and in the opposite direction during braking. Their speed increases or decreases in sync with that of the car.
The car is an intelligent model that will use projector modules to illuminate the road and surroundings in high resolution and project signals onto the ground. Such technology will be used to communicate warnings and vehicle information to even those passers-by who have no direct line of sight to the car.
All of the controls and displays are replaced by wide, uninterrupted surfaces. Once passengers enter the car, illuminated lines of LEDs set colourful accents in the area of the doors and a welcome message appears on the front display. The vehicle has a PIA, an empathetic electronic vehicle assistant, with the capability to recognize the passenger by his phone and to activate all of his personal settings. Variable control interfaces have been installed in the encircling door rail. The seats can be shifted by up to 50 centimetres, and depending on their position, ergonomically positioned touch sensitive display elements are available in the digitized wrap-around. All passengers have to do to control the settings is tap with their fingers. They do not even have to sit up in their seats or lean forward. The operation is also interactive and the PIA system is highly proactive and can offers services before they are chosen.
The car is fully automated and there will no longer be the hassle of driving or having to sit in a fixed position, with passengers free to read or work at their leisure. Road users are connected to one another and their surroundings so that traffic can flow more smoothly. With safety being enhanced through the use of advanced sensor systems and networking, long distances can be covered at a high constant speed of around 130 km/h. Accidents will also be a thing of the past thanks to the highly advanced sensor systems and networking.
The Aicon has a total of four electric motors located in the area of the front and rear axles, and together they have an output of 260 kW and 550 Newton meters. Each motor drives a wheel, thus enabling electronically controlled, variable quattro all-wheel drive. The powertrain and electric brake units use recuperation to recover energy and the focus is on efficiency and range. Targeted lightweight construction and optimized aerodynamics have been used to help the Audi Aicon to achieve ranges between 700 and 800 kilometres on a single charge.
The time for charging and range anxiety are two main barriers to the large scale adoption of electric vehicles. Charging has been kept to the minimum with the use of a high-voltage system with 800 volts. Thus, it is possible for the Aicon’s battery unit to be charged to 80 percent of capacity in less than 30 minutes. It brakes primarily by way of recuperation and in so doing recharges the batteries. The car is also equipped with a unit of inductive, i.e. wireless, charging. The Aicon manages both without a driver. In an AI Zone, it can pull up to a charging station on its own and charge its battery without any human assistance.
The Aicon does not lag with regard to performance as it is a true quattro. Pneumatic spring and damper units make the ride very smooth and the fully active suspension system optimizes the qualities of the adaptive air suspension and glides over even large potholes.
The Audi Aicon is meant to offer motorists the highest levels of comfort, freedom and communications technology. It makes travelling in cities easier and more sustainable with the autonomous technology and electric powertrain that is capable of offering unprecedented range. Hopefully, the Aicon will pave the for the development and production of many such Audi models in the future.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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