Driver assistance systems that Audi is developing for the near future will be even smarter, more versatile and more capable than today’s solutions. Although they do not detract from the responsibility of the person at the wheel, they will make driving even easier and more enjoyable.
Traffic jam assistant
The traffic jam assistant, a visionary technology from Audi, can relieve the driver at times when driving is not much fun, such as in congested traffic. At speeds between zero and 60 km/h (37.28 mph), the system helps to steer the car within certain constraints. It also accelerates and brakes autonomously.
The traffic jam assistant is based on the functionality of adaptive cruise control with stop & go, extended by adding the component of lateral guidance. Two radar sensors monitor everything up to 250 meters (820.21 feet) ahead of the vehicle as per a scanning angle of about 35 degrees. A wide-angle video camera monitors the lane markings; it can also detect objects such as other vehicles, pedestrians and guardrails. Eight ultrasonic sensors monitor zones directly in front of the car and at its corners.
If ACC stop & go is turned on, the traffic jam assistant continuously analyzes the car’s speed and the speeds of nearby vehicles. If it detects a traffic jam from the data at speeds below 60 km/h (37.28 mph), the driver can activate its functionality by pressing a button.
The corridor within which the traffic jam assistant controls the car permits a certain gap to the vehicle ahead. The radar sensors detect not only the vehicle ahead but also others, which enables the system to recognize a de facto lane even in the absence of lane markings. The traffic jam assistant behaves exactly like Audi ACC stop & go in accelerating and braking; it also reacts to cars moving into or out of the lane.
Audi pre sense city
Many existing Audi vehicles can slow themselves down over the last few meters before an imminent collision if the driver is no longer able to intervene. Automatic maximum braking initiated by the vehicle in urban traffic, also known as Audi pre sense city, is based on a new type of sensor technology – and Audi played a major role in its fundamental development. The PMD sensor (PMD: photo mix detector) is a small chip that can measure distances in three dimensions, and it can do so more precisely than conventional sensors. It can detect moving and stationary targets alike; moreover, it actively operates in darkness, rain or bright sunshine.
If a collision seems imminent at speeds below 65 km/h (40.39 mph), Audi pre sense city warns the driver by briefly pulsing the brakes. If the driver does not react, the system applies full braking force about one second before impact. This can reduce the speed at impact by up to 30 km/h (18.64 mph).
Another important function is anticipatory protection of pedestrians, which the PMD sensor can detect at distances of up to 20 meters (65.62 ft). If it signals a potentially hazardous situation, the system decides whether emergency braking is necessary. If so, full braking would ideally begin about one second before impact in this case, too. The maximum possible speed reduction of 30 km/h (18.64 mph) is sometimes enough to bring the car to a full stop in time to prevent a collision. The anticipatory pre sense technology offers very good protection for cyclists, as well.
Active emergency braking
Audi is developing another configuration of the pre sense system that can automatically perform full braking at speeds over 65 km/h (40.39 mph). Its core component is a laser scanner: a technology whose strengths lie in long-distance scanning, a high level of precision and a large scanning angle. The laser also scans zones to the sides in front of the car, which lets it detect construction activities on the edge of the road.
If there is an obstacle in front of the vehicle, such as the end of a traffic jam, the system evaluates whether the driver can still take evasive action.
If evasive action is no longer possible, a timely warning is provided, and automatic full braking is initiated as necessary. This strategy achieves deceleration from relatively high vehicle speeds, which in turn can significantly reduce accident severity. It can also help in situations where the driver cannot react due to a medical emergency. In some scenarios, the system’s braking interventions could conceivably prevent accidents despite high initial speeds.
Active seatbelt buckle
Audi is continually working to enhance its restraint systems. Another potential innovation: active seatbelt buckles for rear passengers that are moved by small electric motors. When a rear door is opened, the active seatbelt buckle would move upward several centimeters to make it easier for passengers to buckle up; it would then return to its rest position. In case of an imminent collision, the buckle would be moved downward somewhat to pretension the seat belt; this process would be reversible.
As a general practice, Audi will be networking the adaptive restraint system more intensively with new assistance technologies. Forward-looking sensors such as PMD diodes can usually identify an imminent collision a few seconds before it occurs while also estimating the speed and size of the other vehicle. The adaptive belt force limiters and adaptive front airbags are triggered based on this information.
The intersection assistant was designed to help avoid collisions, or reduce their severity, wherever lanes merge and at intersections. Two radar sensors and a wide-angle video camera scan zones to the front and sides of the vehicle. The radar-based data takes the lead here, while the camera data is used for adjustments.
If the sensors detect a vehicle approaching from the side and view the situation as critical, the system informs and warns the driver over a number of stages.
Audi is exploring a second variant, which is an extension of the sensor-supported intersection assistant. It is based on car-to-X communication and utilizes automotive WLAN between the two vehicles that could potentially become involved in an accident. This could be supplemented by a hardwired modem, which could also consider the colors of traffic lights when gauging a situation.
Car-to-X technology exhibits a number of strengths. For one, it can operate at intersections where the line of sight of sensors fitted on the vehicle may be blocked. It is also effective over long distances and transmits vehicle-specific information. This information could be used to adapt airbag deployment to the weight of the other accident vehicle, for example.
Warning system for backing out of parking spaces
Backing out of a parking space at right angles to the road can often be a tricky maneuver. If, for instance, a delivery van parked next to him is blocking the driver’s view of the traffic passing at right angles behind his own car, he must cautiously edge the car out into the street. A warning system for backing out of parking spaces – another future solution from Audi – makes this process easier.
The system utilizes the two Audi side assist radar sensors at the rear of the vehicle. They measure and interpret the distance, speed and anticipated driving paths of vehicles detected in cross traffic. Predicted collision risks are displayed.
Warning when opening the door
The exit warning system also utilizes the radar sensors of Audi side assist. This system offers excellent assistance when exiting the vehicle on busy roads. When the driver or a passenger starts to open a door, the sensors check whether a vehicle or cyclist is approaching from the rear at a hazardous distance and a critical speed. If it is not advisable to open the door at that moment, the driver or passenger is provided with a warning.
When parking in narrow spaces that are perpendicular to the driving lane – or in garages in which there are not just cars but also bicycles and other items – parking is often so tight that the driver must struggle to get out of the car afterwards. The park pilot, a further technological vision from Audi, could solve these problems.
Utilizing technology that is installed in an Audi prototype, the driver can exit the vehicle in front of the garage and instruct it to autonomously park itself via the remote key fob or by smartphone. With the help of its ultrasonic sensors, the car drives into the parking space or the garage, stopping immediately if it detects an obstacle. Upon reaching its final position, it shuts off the engine, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors. Finally, it sends a confirmation to the driver.
Another future configuration would allow Audi vehicles to autonomously pull into and back out of parking spaces in multi-level parking facilities and underground parking lots. The driver could simply get out of the car at the entrance and retrieve it there later – the car will handle the rest by itself. The parking facility’s central computer would monitor the vehicle’s movements by radar and guide it via WLAN to the nearest available parking space. For its part, the Audi would monitor its surroundings by means of 12 ultrasonic sensors and four video cameras.
The equipment, data, and prices specified in this document refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.