Audi’s New Self-Driving A8 Is Perfect for Dealing With Traffic Jams

Jul 11, 2017

Audi on Wednesday introduced the newest edition of its A8 luxury sedan, a car the German automotive brand will propel it into the future.

The Audi A8 features cutting-edge technology ranging from its infotainment display to its 286-and-up horsepower engine. But the star of the new vehicle is what Audi calls the "traffic jam pilot." With a front camera along with a combination of LIDAR, radar and ultrasonic sensors, the A8 can autonomously take control of itself and drive in highway traffic up to about 37 miles per hour so long as a physical barrier separates the car from traffic in the oncoming lane.

Audi says that a button on the A8's center console can make the traffic jam pilot start, accelerate, steer and stop the vehicle. The automaker additionally claims that the function will allow drivers to completely remove their hands from the wheel and watch the car's on-board television while the vehicle autonomously drives itself (depending on local regulations.)

When the A8 reaches its destination, another feature, the "remote parking pilot," can direct the vehicle in and out of a parking spot or garage automatically. The driver doesn't even need to be in the car — he or she can activate the system from an app on their smartphone. It's unclear whether the route to the parking space needs to be pre-programmed, however.

Audi put an A8 mockup on a crane and it was sort of insane.

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Moving to the interior, the A8's 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment display allows users to access controls for voice functions, air conditioning, traffic information and more. The system's navigation program is self-learning and adapts based on owners' driving history and search suggestions.

The A8's suspension is adaptable, capable of adjusting based on road conditions and drivers' preferences. With an additional feature Audi calls "pre sense 360," the A8's wheels will automatically raise if it senses an imminent side collision. Audi says that can reduce the potential damage for both vehicles involved in a crash.

This being a $100,000-plus vehicle, there's no shortage of luxury features. The rear right seat of the A8 comes with a footrest that will warm and massage the soles of a passenger's feet. Rear passengers also get access to ambient light control, HD Matrix reading lights and a smartphone-size OLED display to control these features without needing to bother the driver.

Still, the A8 may face some speed bumps along the way. Its autonomous driving features are limited in markets that restrict the use of self-driving vehicles, for instance. Audi says it will be adopting a "step-by-step approach" to introducing the traffic jam pilot following the vehicle's launch. The vehicle's high price tag, meanwhile, means this isn't a car for the masses. But if its self-driving tech is as good as Audi claims, the A8 could be an important stepping stone towards fully autonomous driving.

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