Audi is introducing a visionary mobility concept for the megacities of the future: the Audi AI:ME, offers the ability to drive autonomously at level 4. This allows the occupants to do what they like with their time on board. The Audi AI:ME offers a broad range of high-tech features for communication, entertainment, or simply relaxation. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Electric Vehicles and Autonomous Vehicles in Mining 2018-2028.
With an exterior length of 4.30 meters (14.1 ft) and a width of 1,90 meters (6.2 ft), the Audi AI:ME takes up as much traffic space as a present-day compact car. However, the wheelbase of 2.77 meters (3 ft) and the height of 1.52 meters (5 ft) indicate interior dimensions that are more likely to be found in the next higher class at least. This is made possible by the architecture of the electric drive. It allows for short overhangs and a large-volume interior without a propeller shaft tunnel. The drive unit is positioned on the rear axle and mobilizes 125 kW (170 metric hp). The Audi AI:ME is designed as a 2 plus-x-seater. Its layout relies on a variety of configurations for seat positions and stowage space. While only the individual seats at the front will be used during most journeys, the car offers space for up to four people in the front and on the rear bench if necessary.
Audi AI:ME and Audi AIcon: two concept cars whose very names refer to the new, two-letter abbreviation under which Audi is bundling an entire cluster of innovative mobility technologies. Audi AI has a variety of electronic systems that relieve strain on drivers and simultaneously offer them new possibilities to use the time spent in the car. To this end, Audi AI also uses strategies and technologies from the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Audi AI also combines vehicle intelligence, which makes automated driving possible in the first place, and interaction intelligence, which turns the vehicle into the occupants' partner. Audi AI systems are capable of learning and thinking, while also being proactive and personal. They will be able to continually interact with their surroundings and passengers, and thus adapt themselves in a better way than ever before to the requirements of those on board.
The Audi AI:ME is designed for use in the city and for driving at what is known as level 4. This is the second-highest level on a standardized international scale for increasing automation. Although systems with level 4 do not require any assistance on the part of the driver, their function is limited to a specific area—such as highways or a specially equipped area in inner cities. In these places, the driver can completely transfer the task of driving to the system. The driver needs to resume the task only when the car leaves the area defined for fully automated driving. By contrast to the Audi AIcon, a vehicle with level-5 function that is always fully autonomous, the Audi AI:ME is therefore equipped with the traditional steering wheel and pedalry control elements in addition.
This means that the car, as well as the remaining road users, will drive automatically in a defined traffic area equipped with the corresponding infrastructure in the future. Self-regulating and self-controlling flows of traffic allow the vehicle to glide along calmly, avoiding heavy longitudinal or lateral acceleration. This is an important requirement for the occupants of the car to be able to detach themselves mentally from the traffic around them.
The communication and interaction systems are operated by means of eye tracking, voice input, and touch-sensitive fields in the door rail. They are positioned perfectly in terms of ergonomics and are normally integrated into the surface, making them invisible. The lighting is activated only when approached.
There is a multifunctional, three-dimensional OLED monitor that runs below and along the entire length of the windshield and is used primarily in dialogue with eye-tracking control. Terminologically coded function menus, for example for navigation or infotainment, can be activated with the eye and then open up further levels that move from the background into the sharp view mode on the 3D monitor.
There are VR goggles on board for the visual output of the infotainment system. The vehicle's own movement is detected by a sensor system and then integrated interactively into the visual course of a game. Passengers feel like they are literally in the midst of the action.
Systems that determine the stress levels for vital parameters also serve the wellbeing of the occupants. Intelligent algorithms allow the Audi AI:ME to get to know the driver better and better and improve their options in a specific manner.
The AI:ME will drive predominantly in the speed range between 20 and 70 km/h (12.4 and 43.5 mph) and will often have to remain mobile for hours at a time without charging. However, long ranges in terms of kilometers are less relevant than the ability to make good use of the operating time. A battery unit with a storage capacity of 65 kilowatt hours is sufficient for meeting these requirements. Thanks to brake energy recuperation and its comparatively low weight, the Audi AI:ME exhibits extremely low energy consumption even in city traffic.
Features can be accessed via an app that connects the vehicle order, personal preferences of the user, and numerous options that can be used while driving. Users make use of this app to order their Audi AI:ME and can preorder the car with two or more seats, and even a child's seat, as required. They will find the AI:ME at the requested time and in the agreed-upon place and can simply park it somewhere after using it. In zones with the appropriate equipment, the vehicle can even travel between the depot and the customer's address without a driver.
Source and top image: Audi
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