Vorsprung durch Technik is the hallmark that defines Audi in all areas of automobile development and production. In Audi’s new Lighting Assistance Center in Ingolstadt, engineers are developing innovative lighting technologies, and in the Wind Tunnel they are working on the aerodynamic efficiency of Audi models. In production, Audi is paving the way for the “smart factory,” the intelligent, connected factory of the future.
Audi offers superior solutions in the areas of lightweight construction, engines, drive technologies, chassis, control and infotainment systems, as well as connectivity and driver assistance systems with the first piloted driving functions. The company is consistently optimizing classic combustion engines and pursuing systematic electrification of powertrains. High‑performance plug‑in hybrids like the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron* and the Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro* are two vehicles that prove this emerging technology has what it takes for everyday driving.
Audi is a lighting technology leader. The new Lighting Assistance Center that Audi opened in February 2015 is specially equipped to develop solutions for laser high beams and camera-based lighting assistance systems. At 120 meters (393.7 ft) long, the light tunnel is the biggest automotive facility of its kind in Europe. Audi is taking the next development step with matrix-laser headlights. This technology is featured in the Audi prologue piloted driving show car, which stands for a new design era.
Consistent transfer of technologies from motorsport to series production is an illustrious tradition at Audi – and a unique characteristic of the brand. Motorsport engineers worked very closely together with the developers of the Audi R8* series sports car to develop the Audi R8 LMS – the GT3 racing car for customer racing worldwide. About 50 percent of the two cars’ components are identical. The engineers thoroughly tested the Audi R8 LMS in the Wind Tunnel. They succeeded in optimizing the aerodynamics and reducing the drag coefficient by 20 percent.
In an intelligent production system, these technologies bring forth the most sought-after premium automobiles. The “smart factory” concept refers to an automobile factory that assists the employees in production and is self‑steering to a large extent.
The growing number of model versions and increasing complexity of automobiles is accelerating the transition to the smart factory. There are already more than 1,000 versions of the Audi A3*, for example. In theory, multiplying this number by the many possible combinations of interior features and equipment would result in over 1.1 x 1038 different vehicles. In addition, production is integrating new model derivatives into the line, including the g-tron and e-tron models with gas hybrid drives and plug-in hybrid drives, for example.This explains why digitization and intelligent connectivity are playing an increasingly vital role in Audi production. IT systems and intelligent production facilities provide employees with precise information and components. Human‑robot cooperation and projects like the “chairless chair” are pointing the way forward: Ergonomics in automobile production are becoming more important all the time, and Audi is addressing demographic change with creative solutions.
In the future, production systems will control and monitor themselves, and production facilities and machines at Audi sites worldwide will be connected. These dynamically connected systems will make even more flexible production possible. And the intelligent tools at Audi Toolmaking are already self-regulating. They ensure that the precision of metal panels can be measured in the range of hundredths of millimeters, while also supporting sustainable production. Intelligent production technologies are enabling the company to make tools in new, efficient ways: Audi Toolmaking is testing a 3D printer that can produce metal components with complex geometries.
And Audi is using digital technologies to shape the global growth of the company. A large share of factory planning is being done with virtual reality (VR) systems, which make time-saving, cost-efficient planning possible. VR and augmented reality (AR) applications are found in all areas of the company, from Development to the Pre‑Series Center and Production, to Sales.