With more than 40 driver assistance systems, the fourth generation of the A8 becomes the new gold standard among the competition. The systems support the driver as desired, whether on the freeway or in the parking lot. Among the highlights are the Audi AI traffic jam pilot, the Audi AI (remote) parking pilot and the Audi AI remote garage pilot.
(7) World premiere: the Audi AI traffic jam pilot
With the Audi AI traffic jam pilot, the brand with the four rings presents the world’s first system that enables conditional automated driving at level 3. In certain situations, the car can take over the task of driving and, unlike at level 2, the driver no longer needs to permanently monitor it. They must merely be capable of taking back over control of the vehicle whenever the system prompts them to.
The driver activates the traffic jam pilot with the AI button on the center console. On highways and multi-lane roads with a physical barrier separating the two directions of traffic, the system takes over the driving task if the car is traveling at no more than 60 km/h (37.3 mph) in nose-to-tail traffic. The traffic jam pilot handles starting from a stop, accelerating, steering and braking in its lane. It can also handle demanding situations such as vehicles cutting in closely in front.
If the traffic jam pilot is activated, drivers can take their foot off the accelerator and their hands off the steering wheel. They no longer have to continuously monitor the car and can focus on another activity supported by the on-board infotainment system, depending on the legal situation in the respective country. The Audi virtual cockpit shows a stylized view of the car from the rear and blurred markings on the road that symbolize the motion and surroundings of the new A8.
While traffic jam pilot is activated, a camera checks whether the driver is prepared to resume the task of steering if needed. It analyzes the position and movement of the head and eyes in order to generate anonymized data. If a driver’s eyes remain closed for an extended period, for example, the system prompts the driver to resume the driving task. The prompt to take over is given in three phases – ranging from visual and acoustic warnings all the way to an emergency brake application. If the speed exceeds 60 km/h (37.3 mph) or the traffic begins to clear, the traffic jam pilot informs drivers they need resume driving themselves. If the driver ignores this prompt and the subsequent warnings, the A8 is braked until it stops completely in its lane.
Introduction of the Audi AI traffic jam pilot requires both clarity regarding the legal parameters for each country and specific adaptation and testing of the system. Moreover, varying worldwide homologation procedures and their deadlines must be observed. For these reasons, Audi will initiate series production of the traffic jam pilot in the new A8 incrementally, depending on the legal situation in the respective country.
(8) Automatic parking: Audi AI (remote) parking pilot and Audi AI remote garage pilot
The Audi AI (remote) parking pilot and the Audi AI remote garage pilot turn parking into a truly comfortable experience: they drive the A8 autonomously into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces as well as garages, and can also drive it back out. The driver monitors their activity but does not need to be sitting in the vehicle – both systems can be started using a smartphone featuring the new myAudi app. To do this, the driver simply presses the Audi AI button in the app and keeps the button pressed during the entire parking process. In the display, the driver sees live images from the vehicle’s surrounding cameras. The A8 then drives into the parking space at a speed of up to 6 km/h (3.7 mph), if necessary in several maneuvers. It is only possible to park forwards in a garage. Once the maneuver is complete and the A8 has reached its end position, the system selects position P in the tiptronic transmission and deactivates the engine and the ignition. If the driver wishes to drive off again, the car can be started using the smartphone before autonomously driving out of the parking space or garage. Alternatively, the Audi AI parking pilot can also be activated using the AI button in the center console if the driver is still sitting behind the wheel. This, too, must remain pressed for the duration of the parking procedure.
The Audi AI (remote) parking pilot and the Audi AI remote garage pilot work both intelligently and conveniently. The sedan can even correctly park in a garage in which the vehicle must drive in an arc. Inside the garage, the A8 can approach very close to the walls and obstructions such as bikes – or it will interrupt entering if there is not enough space for the car. This special function benefits especially from the innovative laser scanner and is not available in any other competitor model.
Two innovations: laser scanner and central driver assistance controller
As the first series-production car in the world to offer conditional automated driving at level 3, the traffic jam pilot of the A8 is based on two innovations: the sensor set with new laser scanner and the central driver assistance controller, or zFAS for short. Together with the long-range radar and the front camera, the laser scanner forms a trio of sensors, the various strengths of which complement each other. In the fully-equipped variant, there are a further 21 sensors: four mid-range radars at the corners of the new A8, four surrounding cameras, twelve ultrasound sensors and an infra-red camera. Using the light pulses emitted by the laser scanner, it recognizes and precisely measures any type of object, even in darkness.
It covers an area of around 80 meters in length (262.5 ft) and an aperture angle of 145 degrees, thus also allowing it to very rapidly detect vehicles cutting in. Detailed information about the edges of the road – for example, the presence of barriers – round out the scope of the system.
Data from the sensors is read by the central driver assistance controller in the so-called fusion layer. This is prepared continuously by a computer which is roughly the size of a tablet; this data is then used to create an image of the car’s surroundings. To this end, it uses processors from international leading suppliers and this system alone has more computing power than the previous A8 model with all of its systems together. Part of the differentiated environment model includes moving objects, static obstacles and a road model. The latter is generated using both the conventional navigation map and data on road markings and boundaries, as detected by the sensors.
The zFAS serves as the central interface for the piloted driving functions, as well as for almost all other assistance systems. Be it the new crossing assist which recognizes vehicles crossing in front of the driver’s vehicle, the emergency braking function, adaptive driving assistant or the traffic jam pilot – none of these functions is more connected to a specific sensor. Each system makes use of the vehicle surroundings model and can operate more effectively as a result of this model’s high precision. This makes it possible for the A8, for example, to recognize the tail end of a traffic jam and brake the vehicle appropriately.
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.