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How to Make the Tech-Marvel 2019 Audi A8 Even Better

There’s room for improvement in seeing down the road and parking itself.

By Doug Newcomb

The all-new 2019 Audi A8 is a technological tour de force. The flagship sedan can perform critical safety tricks, such as using its active suspension to slightly raise the vehicle if sensors detect an impending impact. Crash forces are then absorbed by the floor structure, the strongest part of the car’s body.

It’s also the first car to use what Audi calls HD Matrix LED headlights, which consist of two rows of high-intensity LEDs, 32 in all. The headlights automatically brighten based on the car’s GPS coordinates to anticipate when more light is needed, such as when driving around corners.

But the feature that’s getting the most media attention is the A8’s AI traffic jam pilot, which moves us one step closer to fully autonomous vehicles and takes the tedium out of stop-and-go urban driving. On highways where there’s a physical barrier separating two-way traffic and at speeds up to 37mph, the system allows the car to completely handle acceleration, steering, and braking.

Audi says a driver “no longer needs to monitor the car permanently. They can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and, depending on the national laws, focus on a different activity that is supported by the car, such as watching the on-board TV.”

This is made possible by 12 ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, six cameras, and a first-of-its-kind front-mounted laser scanner that stitches together a 154-degree view around the car (not by most state laws that require hands on the wheel and eyes on the road instead of a TV screen).

Don’t take this opportunity to doze off, though. As Slashgear noted in a test drive in Dusseldorf, Germany, “the traffic jam pilot flagged that the system’s assistance was coming to an end as we entered a rural area with stop lights and such. In short, if you’re looking to take a nice drive through the mountains, leaving the A8 to handle the controls while you sightsee, don’t count on it.”

Another first is the ability to autonomously park the 2019 A8 using the MyAudi smartphone app. But whether you’ll be able to remotely park your car will probably depend on how large your driveway and garage are — and how much you trust the technology. And, like the AI traffic jam pilot, remote parking in public will be dictated (if not restricted) by local laws. There are other features that help the A8 not only see down the road but miles ahead. And they’re not even new and can be found on other and less expensive Audis. For the next A8, I would like to see Audi build on those to make them even more useful and practical.

Audi was the first automaker to feature an adaptive cruise control system that uses GPS to anticipate road features ahead such as hills and curves and allow the car’s powertrain to automatically compensate for them. The next step in this is what’s known as e-horizon and has been shown by automotive supplier Continental as a concept.

The technology uses connectivity to enable features ranging from alerting drivers to trouble ahead such as foul weather or a traffic tie-up to further refining a car’s powertrain to anticipate upcoming terrain for fuel economy savings of up to 3 percent. And given that Continental is working on e-horizon with Audi-owned digital map provider Here, it’s not a stretch to think that it could come to a future version of the A8.

I’d also like to see the automated remote parking feature available on the new A8 enhanced with an existing Audi technology. The automaker has incorporated dynamic parking information from traffic-data provider Inrix in its cars for the past four years. The feature not only allows a driver to find parking in commercial garages but also shows the location, remaining capacity, and even prices.

It’s not hard to imagine the remote parking feature being combined with Inrix info so you could send your car off to park itself while, say, you shop at the mall. If this seems farfetched, I recall the last time the A8 received a major overhaul in 2010. Testing it at the time, the car had no self-driving features, save for adaptive cruise control.

So I can dream, and easily see Audi fulfilling it on the next version of the A8.

Read more: “The Hottest Cars at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show

Originally published at www.pcmag.com.



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