Audi Aicon Concept is Yet Another Autonomous Show Car
Nearer-term Elaine concept also coming to Frankfurt
Audi is already introducing Level 3 self-driving technology on the A8, but a new concept car takes autonomy a big step further. The Audi Aicon concept, debuting at the Frankfurt Motor Show, previews a future without steering wheels or pedals. And it looks pretty luxurious.
Reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion, the Audi Aicon is more of a living room than a traditional vehicle. It features modern seats, large glass panels, and plenty of space for passengers to lounge. At almost 18 feet long, Audi likens the 2+2 concept to being on a first-class airline cabin rather than in a robot taxi. The seats can slide back and forward longitudinally on an adjustable platform covered in carpet.
Passengers can control different functions using the digitalized wrap-around screen inside the cabin. In addition to haptic inputs, passengers can also engage with the vehicle via voice control and eye tracking. Since accidents will supposedly no longer occur in the era of autonomy, the model doesn't need classic restraint systems. Passengers have the freedom to swivel their seats up to 15 degrees.
The exterior, which is admittedly less important on autonomous cars, has large 26-inch wheels and flared wheel arches. Near the Singleframe grille, lights can display all kinds of graphics and animations. The car can communicate dangerous situations to others on the road On either side of the grille are "eyes" that can widen, squint, and even look at pedestrians on the road.
Electrification often goes hand-in-hand with autonomous driving, and this is the case with the Aicon. The concept makes use of four electric motors, each one driving a wheel. Together, they produce around 349 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Solid state batteries are located beneath the floor and have more energy capacity than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Audi estimates that these innovations can help the Aicon travel 497 miles on a single charge, although that might be an estimate based on the optimistic New European Driving Cycle. Charging up to 80 percent capacity takes less than 30 minutes.
To keep passengers comfortable, the Aicon features pneumatic spring and damper units for a smooth ride. Despite its size, the model has the tighter turning radius of a small car thanks to an all-wheel steering system, Audi says, which is made possible with the removal of the steering shaft and steering hydraulics.
In addition to the Aicon, Audi is bringing the Elaine concept, whose exterior was previewed by the E-Tron Sportback concept earlier this year. This model uses animated LED fields to greet passengers when they enter or exit the vehicle. It also previews electric technology that will make its way to future production models. With an electric motor on the front axle and two in the rear, the model gets power to all its four wheels. The system provides enough juice to make around 430 hp and can launch the car to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds. It supports Level 4 automation, which does not require driver intervention in specific scenarios. It can change lanes on the highway and even park itself using Audi's AI technology. As we know, a production model based on the E-Tron Sportback has already been approved for production by 2019.