When not talking electric, the Frankfurt show is all about autonomy and the Audi Aicon is a clear vision of the brand’s future self-driving technology.
The four-door 2+2 concept for a luxury saloon of the future is a fully autonomous vehicle, to the extent that the car does not even possess a steering wheel or pedals – these “unnecessary” items have been removed to liberate more space for occupants.
Audi describes the car’s interior as equivalent to a first-class airline cabin. And the space within is huge, created by the sheer size of the car at 5444mm long with a wheelbase of 3470mm – some 240mm longer than the current extended Long version of the latest Audi A8. Large glass surfaces also help to create the impression of space.
Headlights – so last century
As well as predicting a possible self-driving future, the Aicon also previews technology likely to find its way onto future Audi mainstream production models. This could include the lighting which replaces conventional headlights with digital display surfaces using hundreds of triangular pixel segments that form three-dimensional recreations of the Audi AI symbol.
According to Audi an autonomously driving vehicle of the future will not need long-range headlights. The Aicon uses a laser and radar sensor system that even in the dark can reliably find the way and detect possible obstacles in good time. Projector modules illuminate the road and surroundings in high resolution and project signals onto the ground. They can even communicate warnings to passers-by before they can see the car.
The Aicon powertrain comprises four electric motors with a total 260kW output – equivalent to 353hp. Each drives a single wheel and are individually controlled to provide continuously variable quattro all-wheel-drive capability. And perhaps demonstrating that the designers have thought of everything –when passengers exit the Audi Aicon in the dark, a ‘light companion”’’ is activated: A mini-drone with a flashlight safely illuminating the user’s walking path to their door!