The whole world is networking, and Audi is playing an integral role. Under the slogan Audi connect, the brand with the four rings is pooling all the solutions which connect its vehicles with the Internet, the driver and nearby infrastructure. Audi started equipping its vehicles with online services in late 2009 and has kept ahead of global competitors ever since.
For all telephone and online services by Audi, data transfer is handled by a UMTS module. It is integrated in the Bluetooth online car phone and transfers data at rates as high as 7.2 MB per second. The UMTS module also provides specially configured weather reports and the news as well as helps with travel planning. Audi passengers enjoy full access to the World Wide Web: a WLAN hotspot in the Bluetooth online car phone enables access for as many as eight mobile terminal devices, be they smartphones or laptops.
LTE (Long Term Evolution), the next-generation mobile communications standard, will transfer data much more quickly. Designed for transfer rates as high as 100 MB per second, it functions far faster than UMTS or DSL. Audi has already presented an A8 with this technology.
Some large models now feature a new service from Audi connect: Audi’s online traffic information system keeps drivers abreast in real time of the traffic situation ahead in many European countries. This innovation relies on travel data generated by hundreds of thousands of on-the-road vehicles; data is then evaluated at a control center. If a driver enters their intended journey prior to departing, the system will depict the current traffic situation along the entire route. Depending on how much traffic is on a given stretch of road, it will be highlighted green, yellow, orange or red.
Such real-flow data represents a quantum leap over traditional TMC reports. Information not only is truly precise and up-to-the-minute, but also includes rural routes and especially cities. Audi’s online traffic information system describes traffic jams in a handful of words and estimates how many minutes a delay will last. The insights it provides help to plan routes and offer alternatives. This service will first be available in Central Europe, France and Italy, with additional European countries to follow soon thereafter.
Audi and Google have been collaborating since 2005 – and their close cooperation has borne an array of attractive results. The elegant 3D map graphics displayed by the large navigation system in new models can interface with online images from Google Earth. Audi is currently the world’s only automotive manufacturer to offer this service. The Google Street View function will soon become available in Germany. It allows the driver to preview their destination on the MMI screen from one of two perspectives: the driver’s seat or a 360-degree view. This makes it far easier to get oriented.
Another new Audi connect service will facilitate the search for certain points of interest. This is an online, voice-controlled service known as Google POI Voice Search. The driver simply chooses a destination and specifies their interest – “Italian restaurant,” for instance. This voice command is sent as a data packet to Google’s search engines.
The on-board monitor will then display a diverse variety of results, many of which list a restaurant’s telephone number and various pieces of additional information.
A further aspect of Audi connect concerns interfaces with the future e-tron models. Special smartphone apps will make it possible to remotely check the state of an e-tron’s rechargeable battery or, in the summer, to efficiently air-condition the vehicle’s interior while the battery is still recharging.
In the medium term, this function could evolve to include remote diagnostics: prior to a scheduled service appointment, the car will share with the dealership all key data regarding its condition. The spectrum of online communications offered by fully networked Audi vehicles will one day make the on-board storage of data all but superfluous; from music to navigational information, cars can retrieve all the data they need from servers.
Audi connect also stands for the new field of Car-to-X communication, a means for vehicles to network with other vehicles and the transportation infrastructure. Car-to-X technology bears tremendous potential for making traffic flow more safely and smoothly, thus conserving fuel.
Audi covered key fundamentals during the travolution project. In Ingolstadt, where Audi is headquartered, 25 traffic signals communicate with vehicles in a test fleet; these signals tell the vehicles when they will be changing and what the optimal speed is between each set of traffic signals. Such intelligently synchronized traffic lights can reduce CO₂ emissions at these intersections by 15 to 20 percent.
Audi is further bolstering its Car-to-X know-how in the scope of a large-scale test in the Frankfurt region: Germany’s simTD project (Safe and Intelligent Mobility Test Bed Germany). The project partners, including five other German vehicle manufacturers, are hard at work on solutions for the future. For example, drivers will be warned of a traffic jam ahead, icy roads or a risk of collision at an upcoming intersection – or simply be notified about available parking spaces. Communication can be handled via LTE by a service provider or via automotive WLAN, a mobile communications standard which enables vehicles to spontaneously network with each other.
Along with future driver assistance systems, advancements regarding the building blocks which constitute Audi connect will establish the prospect of comprehensively networked automobiles. Such a futuristic Audi could significantly ease the burden on its driver: the vehicle could drive itself wherever conventional driving is not any fun – in stop-and-go traffic, for example.
The equipment and data specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors excepted.