The “Klara” and “Bonnie” concept studies are both based on the Audi A1 but couldn’t be more different to one another. While “Klara” features breathing bodywork and provides us with an insight into possible advances in exterior design, “Bonnie” is all about the innovative design of the interior. Both concepts share the idea of using empathetic technology or playful elements (gamification) to build up trust between man and machine – an important and basic pre-requisite for piloted driving.

Klara concept car
Being able to trust a car can best be achieved through creating empathy, whereby people near a car feel that the car is permanently keeping an eye on them and reacting in a sensitive way towards them. The “Klara – The Living One” concept study provides surprising answers to the question as to how an Audi may develop in the space of ten, twenty or thirty years: a high-tech automobile which shows emotion and which could thus become a personal friend or assistant.

At first glance, “Klara” looks like a regular Audi A1, but looks can be deceiving. Upon closer inspection, you can see that the car appears to take breaths of air in regularly spaced periods. In order for the bodywork to be able to carry out these breathing movements, 39 electric adjustment motors are at work under the metalwork. Thanks to a sensitive set of sensors, “Klara” reacts interactively and subjectively to its surroundings. If a person approaches who the vehicle perceives as friendly, it greets them by flashing its lights. But Klara is also capable of showing discontentment by growling.

For future series-production applications at Audi, particularly interesting is feedback on how “Klara” uses her empathetic reactions to establish a communication level between driver and car – and even create trust between man and machine.

Bonnie concept car
Numerous new options for personalization and interior ideas are presented by the “Bonnie” interior concept car. The driver and passengers can, for example, create drum noises by rhythmically tapping on certain surfaces in the cockpit, or they can use an app to adapt the LED ambient lighting to the color of their T-shirt or nail polish.

With the innovative lighting concept in the interior, “Bonnie” shows the possibilities that digitization in lighting design can open up and how the interior will, in future, be much more personlizable. This new type of personalization offers the advantage that drivers and passengers feel particularly good. Anyone can change the interior lighting color at any time to suit their favorite color. If a person uses multiple vehicles, for example as in car sharing, the person’s favorite color can be carried with them from vehicle to vehicle. Thus, each vehicle feels like his/her own car. The same applies if several people – for example a family – share one vehicle.

Besides personlizable LED ambient lighting, “Bonnie” offers other ideas for illumination: surface lights instead of the familiar ceiling-mounted grab handles, air vents and loudspeakers illuminated from the inside, a particularly bright light for the footwell and luggage compartment, as well as a carpet of light for the immediate vehicle surrounding.

The sports seats make use of sustainable materials which feel like real suede. The start button is integrated into the shift lever knob and the shift point display in the flat-bottomed steering wheel. A smartphone and a tablet stowage tray highlight the target customers of this concept study: young professionals and young-at-heart over-50s who always have their mobile devices with them. A handbag holder in front of the front-passenger seat prevents handbags from slipping forward in the footwell upon braking. For heavily-used training shoes, there is a sort of dirt bucket under the double floor of the luggage compartment. The lid embedded in the luggage compartment floor extends the stowage height, for example for transporting potted plants or larger bunches of flowers.

A thrilling entertainment feature of “Bonnie” is the “Drumbase” function. Piezo sensors in the steering wheel, the air vents and in the lid of the glove compartment precisely register drumming by the driver and passengers, while a computer turns them into drum noises.

It almost sounds as if a real drum kit is on-board the Audi A1. This playful approach ensures a new type of possibility to while away the time on-board. Similar gamification gadgets may, in future, also be interesting in piloted vehicles.

Personal intelligent assistant (PIA)
The best operating concept is the one which is ideally adapted to the driver, the one which relieves him/her of as many actions as possible and which autonomously carries out routine operational inputs – PIA, the personal intelligent assistant, follows precisely this principle. Using artificial intelligence methods, PIA combines data intelligently with one another – data from the car, data about the driver, about the current or up-coming traffic situation, as well as data from the internet. Among other things, PIA responds to voice inputs and, thanks to intelligent algorithms, it can interact with the user independently and adaptively.

PIA looks at the activities of the driver and, based on them, gets to know his/her typical behavior. This opens it up to use for a broad range of possible applications: navigation, selection of music, selection of the desired Audi connect service, climate control, suggestion of a parking space or maintaining the regular distance to vehicles traveling in front on the motorway. Based on the knowledge ascertained through machine learning, PIA adapts the car’s functions to the behavior and needs of the driver and can actively make recommendations.

A server in the secure Audi cloud hosts and processes the PIA data. Customers can view and manage these data at any time via their myAudi account. These can then be deleted or modified, for example in the event of moving house. What’s more, they can be automatically transferred to other cars. The car identifies the individual user, loads the right user profile, and PIA then adapts the car and its interactive behavior accordingly.

Audi Electronics Venture GmbH (AEV), an Audi subsidiary, has overall responsibility for the PIA predevelopment project. Initial elements could make their way into production before the end of this decade and then gradually expand to create a perfect, tactful driver’s assistant.