The Ingolstadt-based automaker is joining the fully self-driving bandwagon – with visions of the future where cars will only have passengers, albeit treated like in a first-class airline cabin when such premium brands are involved.
The Aicon Concept is the embodiment of this future – where there are no drivers, since cars lack the traditional controls. This is because the prototype comes with Level 5 autonomous systems, meaning it can handle each and every task on the road, even emergency situations. Meanwhile, the 2+2 passengers can presumably do whatever they want – watch TV, keep in touch on social media or even work – even today there are mobile business meetings, we can imagine so much more will be held while being driven around by the unmanned vehicles of the future.
The sedan is also roomy and airy – given that its wheelbase alone is several inches longer than of the automaker’s flagship A8 – and that space easily translates into the cabin, with seats looking like modern home furniture. They even swivel for face-to-face conversations or easier ingress/egress. There are numerous screens placed all around – even the windscreen can double as one – and Audi even thought about what drives the autonomous paradigm shift in the auto field. With no human intervention required, there are lots of innovative features, for example the outside lights have been transformed into digital display surfaces with hundreds of pixel segments. These so-called “light areas” can double as headlights but can also display a range of images – or project certain information for other autonomous cars. A slightly creepy feature is they can effectively form light “eyes” that lock on specific objects – such as people or other cars – and follow them even as the car moves.
With the Aicon being essentially a passenger shuttle, there are no performance requirements here – but Audi’s trademark Quattro AWD is still present, thanks to a total of four electric motors that have a combined output of 350 horsepower. Cruising speed seems to be the new benchmark for these driverless cars, with Audi claiming a range of 435 to 500 miles – 700 to 800 km at a set speed of 80 mph / 130 kph. The Aicon of course can drive itself to recharge – so the passengers won’t lose any of their precious time – and get back to 80 percent capacity within 30 minutes.