Audi has revealed its new flagship A8 in Barcelona, Spain at the Audi Summit. The German automaker states that the 2018 A8 will be the first production automobile designed for autonomous driving.
Actually, Audi claims the A8 is the first production vehicle to be developed for highly automated driving. In slow moving traffic, the software, Audi AI, has a Traffic Jam Pilot mode, which will take control up to 37 mph. This will occur on highways and freeways with a physical barrier separating oncoming traffic. Pressing a button labeled AI on the center console will activate the system.
Traffic Jam Pilot will handle starting, braking, steering, and accelerating. Audi says the driver will no longer need to permanently monitor the car. With hands off the steering wheel, the car will drive itself through traffic. The carmaker says that the driver, depending on local laws, could then watch the on-board television, make phone calls or text, and not worry about the car getting into an accident. When the AI is at its limits, like traffic speeding up to normal speeds or something preventing it from functioning, it will call on the driver to take back over.
The Audi flagship has always been the luxury of luxury. The S-Line version of the car became a dream car of many after appearing in the 1998 Robert De Niro film, Ronin. The car is seen doing four wheel drifts through French cities, and immediately was a hit. At the time, only the A8 was available in the United States, but since then, the S8 has made it to this side of the pond. One should expect the technology from the A8 to also reach the S version too.
In a press release, Nvidia talked about how their tech is used in the new Audi. Nvidia chips are at the heart of the computer that manages the autonomous functions of the car, as well as the infotainment system and virtual cockpit.
Beyond Audi’s claims about the A8, Nvidia expanded the claim by saying it is the first Level 3 autonomous driving vehicle in the world to start production. Elon Musk and Tesla might have a problem with this statement. According to the definition of driving levels for autonomous vehicles from the SAE, Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot is arguably already at Level 3, however, it is not 100 percent complete, constantly have updates and tweaks done to it, making it a work in progress.
However, the Audi looks incredible. The widescreen infotainment display is beautiful, and the rest of the cockpit will leave drivers with little more to desire, if anything. A price for the new A8 has not been released, but it is anticipated to exceed $100,000 in the United States.
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By Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy Nvidia