There are five levels of automated driving as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Tesla operates somewhere between two and three. Audi’s Aicon concept car that debuted at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor show imagines a future where level 5 automation is achieved and one can ride around in a fully automated self-driving car with 99.9 percent knowledge that they won’t get into an accident. Audi’s Aicon concept car emphasizes maximum comfort with minimal passenger input at the luxury car level.

Audi Aicon Concept
Audi Aicon Concept

Given that we live in a world where automated cars are whizzing about, you probably will still be confined by what you can afford. Audi’s Aicon concept car lands in the D-segment, or large car segment.

Outside you’ll notice that gone are the headlights and taillights. Instead, you’ve got an array of customizable pixels that are arranged to resemble the headlights and taillights of old.

Through the use of projected light patterns, Audi’s Aicon concept can further communicate with its surrounding environment by keeping track of pedestrians, cyclists and other cars alike and projecting messages warning of impending danger accordingly.

Audi Aicon Concept

Audi’s Aicon concept takes design language and interprets it to a world of car design not defined by drivers. Traditional B-pillars are gone to accommodate suicide door operation. Passengers are greeted to a wide opening in order to ingress and egress. Inside, there are no driver controls whatsoever. There isn’t even a toggle or dial in sight. Instead, everything is touch screen. Upon entering, panels come to life for you to interact with.

Audi Aicon Concept
Audi Aicon Concept

Audi says that passengers in level 5 automation in their concept car can enjoy working, commuting, relaxing, and even napping? The layman’s litmus test for any passenger sitting in a driverless car has to be napping as if you can fall asleep peacefully with full-confidence that you won’t get into an accident, level 5 automation has been achieved.

As this is an Audi, they do say that their Aicon chassis and powertrain can handle whatever road conditions are thrown their way. Now that drivers aren’t doing the driving, typical engine characteristics that we treasure like breakneck acceleration and bold top speed claims are things of the past. Taking a page from their Rolls Royce counterparts, performance will be adequate. And apparently to Audi, that means 350 HP and 405 lb-ft from four electric motors.

Range. 435-500 miles between charges.

Automated driving is the future. How fast we get to certain levels of automation will be a long and arduous road filled with studies and defined by the slow moving wheels of government. It’s comforting to know that when we do get to those automation levels, we’ll have something as nice as this Aicon waiting for us.


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