“Design study, technology demonstrator, mobility concept.” That’s how Audi describes its Aicon concept car, revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Sounds dry, right? What if we told you it had no steering wheel, no pedals and its driverless tech could be coming to production Audis sooner than you may expect?
The four-door car is a whopping 5.4-metres long and offers the luxury of a first-class airline cabin. Level 5 autonomous tech will make crashes a thing of the past, says Audi, meaning passengers are free to enjoy their journey without being restrained by conventional seats and seat belts.
Each wheel has its own electric motor, with a combined output of 349bhp and 406lb ft of torque, helping passengers arrive at their destination briskly if required. Solid body batteries are integrated below the floor, providing an achievable range of between 434 and 497 miles. An 800 volt system allows rapid charging, with 80 percent of the batteries’ full capacity being reached within 30 minutes. Of course, the Aicon can make its own way to a charging station with a driver and, using inductive (wireless) charging, top itself up without any human assistance.
Suspension is designed for maximum comfort – a first for Audi – with pneumatic spring and damper units with electronic control eliminating body lean, whether when cornering, accelerating or braking.
Conventional headlights are replaced by fully digital display surfaces made up of hundreds of triangular pixel segments. These can display moving graphics to communicate with other road users, while a mini drone will light up your path to the front door when you leave the car.
While you’re unlikely to ever be able to walk into an Audi dealer and buy an Aicon, the clever technology will trickle down to road cars over the coming years.
Alongside the Aicon at Frankfurt, the Audi Elaine (yes, that’s really its name) is an electric SUV with Level 4 autonomous tech. It includes autonomous driving and a remote parking function capable of tackling multi-storey car parks and even negotiating charging bays without human interaction.