2019 Audi A8 Promises Tidal Wave of Technology – Forbes
Imagine this scenario. Your car is about to have an unavoidable accident and its radar sensors know it’s coming. A computer instantly tells the car’s active suspension system to raise the body by three inches on the side of the impending impact. The result; the crash forces are directed into the floor structure, the strongest part of the car’s body shell, and serious injury or worse is potentially averted.
Far from an automotive engineer’s dream, this system is just one element of a tsunami of high technologies going into production in the next generation Audi A8, coming to the US next summer.
In a lavish presented ‘Summit’ conference in Barcelona recently, Audi unveiled its 2019 A8 sedan and delved into the multitude of technologies carried by the brand’s forthcoming flagship.
The new A8’s headlining feature has to be its level three autonomous driving capability; Audi claims it will be the first company to market with such a system.
The world’s first fully autonomous cars are still years away from production, but Audi and other leading luxury brands are working fast to launch the intermediate autonomous levels.
In the case of the A8, Audi’s so-called ‘traffic jam pilot’ system will be able to take over the driving duties on a divided highway at speeds up to 37 mph. This may sound a little limited in scope but for those drivers who regularly face long commutes in slow traffic, it could be a godsend. Audi likes to refer to the personal time ‘gained’ back from drivers using the system as the 25th hour.
But before you get notions of hopping into the back seat to lie down and take a nap, know that the A8 has a camera watching the driver to make sure he or she is ready to take over control within 10 seconds should the need arise.
More problematic is the legal morass facing autonomous cars both in the US and in most of Europe, except Germany. Apart from some limited technology testing programs, most US states currently do not permit self-driving cars on public roads. As such, it’s unlikely that Traffic Jam Pilot will be activated on the A8 when it’s first launched here, but Audi hopes the legal hurdles will be cleared soon.