The next-generation Audi A8 luxury sedan will feature autonomous driving.
Audi board member Dr Dietmar Voggenreiter says the brand is marching ahead with the technology despite global legislation not keeping up with the new tech. He says, like Volvo, Audi will take full responsibility for any accident or fatality caused by an Audi while in autonomous mode.
“This is not big news,” Voggenreiter says.
“This is part of the legal situation and the regulation side. If we take over the responsibility [of the car] and you are allowed to read your emails or whatever, then we are responsible.”
Voggenreiter says the new A8, due in Europe next year, will feature Level 3 autonomy.
Interior of an Audi self-piloted vehicle. Picture/Supplied
“When you are driving on a freeway or in an urban situation, at speeds of up to 65km/h, you will be able to take your hands off [the steering wheel], and the car will do the braking, the accelerating, the changing lanes ... ”
The car will have an in-built system to alert the driver, who, according to Voggenreiter, may be reading a book, checking emails or engaging with friends on social media, when a situation demands the driver take control. “If the car detects a situation, coming into a construction zone, for instance, then it will ask you to take over again, but it will give you a 15 to 20-second warning of that.”
Voggenreiter says the major hurdle facing car manufacturers isn’t the technology but the regulations and legislation that will allow autonomous cars to drive on our roads.
Voggenreiter believes autonomous driving will lead to a reduction in the road toll and, ultimately, zero fatalities.
“In the long run we will see Level 5 cars with no steering wheels and no pedals. This will come and we are working on this technology now,” he says.
“It is not easy to predict whether it will be 2020, 2035 or 2040 but, from a technology point of view, it will be possible.”