Audi and the Future of Driving Mobility

2013-ces-audi-self-parking-car

If there is one thing for sure about Audi, it’s that they know how to put on a show.

The event started off with a short cinematic film before Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory), stepped out on stage as host to their Press Event with the charm and charisma to be expected from a veteran actor.

Kunal references Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Knight Rider, Herby Fully Loaded as well as I,Robot for movies that depict automated vehicles with driving assistance. It was clear where this presentation was going from here but we wont spoil that just yet.

An Audi from the 1930s pulls up on stage with CEO and President of Consumer Electronic Division, Gary Shapiro and Chairman of the Board of Management, Rupert Adler sitting in back. They step out front and center and speak of what we will refer to as an Era of Four.
First, man created the machine and we began to push it’s limits. Helmets, glasses and as much power we could put inside it.

Second was taming the machine. Making it work for the modern man. Turning what was once a novelty into an every day life tool.

Third, the era of today. Safety, technology, luxury, and convenience stand out as the priorities in design.

And lastly but not least of all, the 4th era. Refining the automobile is to redefining what we know as mobility. The future of automotive capability and design as man knows.

Adler went on discussion how people wish to be connected in that mobility used to only be about connecting people to their lives in a very broad way. But it is now about so much more. Connecting the driver to their vehicle, their surroundings, the traffic, and the infrastructure are all key components to the driving experience.

And with that, comes closing the gap between science fiction and the reality that are our roads.

Ulrich Hackenberg, VW lead design and Audi board member appeared on a back display speaking of driver assistance, piloted driving, and the new era this can take mankind into. This is not cruise control, mind you. But rather, the ability that a car can drive itself completely through location-based GPS technology and sensors to keep the driver safe. What if your car had a scanner that browsed hundreds of feet in every direction scanning MPH signs, broken and solid lines in the road and other cars? Well…

Just then a door opens up, a car without any seeable driver navigates itself to center stage. Along the side is a decal that says Audi Connect Piloted Driving – The New Dimension of Driving Pleasure.

This car just drove itself. Yes, really.

A small logic board (mother board, the brain inside any and all computers) the size of “an iPad”, known as the ZFas, contains 2.5 billion inputs per second to make decisions and control its actions so that it can take over for you as the driver in traffic, while driving, and while parking.

This is not a surprise as Audi last year at CES 2013 debuted parking assistance that in reality was knocking at the front door of this current idea on stage in front of idea. The ability to step out from your automobile and go about your business while it looked for an available open parking spot was enough to knock the socks off any and all who witnessed the presentation.

A second car, the Audi S3 Sedan then takes the stage, of course also driving on its own. This time with two different passengers, the President and CEO of NVIDIA, Jen Hsun Huang, and Ralph DE La Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility.

They reveal that this new era of automobile being pushed forward by Audi will be powered by AT&T’s own 4G LTE (the powerful and fast connection inside your smartphone) and NVIDIA’s Tegra K1, a 192 Core Super Chip, a piece of hardware revealed by NVIDIA the day before. These two pieces of tech will be put together to run the Automated Piloted Assistance in Audi’s vehicles.

Now 4G LTE is no stranger to Audi cars, having been introduced over Summer 2013, Audi became the first automotive company to incorporate this technology in their vehicles.

It was shortly after this that the entire stage faded to black along with the rest of the room. Lasers began shining about from the center of the stage before a group of breakdancers popped out covered in LEDs and entertaining the attendees with pop-lock moves to electronica. The audience was unaware of just how many were on screen at any time as they kept on disappearing and reappearing all over the stage sporadically only showing 3-5 in view at any given moment. It was not until the end that we saw a total of ten on stage for their final dance. If you are pondering the relevance of such a show, just know that we were too. That was until Audi revealed their new concept car.

700 horsepower, 90 miles per gallon, and Matrix LEDs (which explains the laser show beforehand) which extend beyond the length of five football fields.

This is Audi’s vision for the future of mobility. Just what will that ecosystem look like? Will future generations even drive? These are the questions that surround our future of driving, made clear by the mobility and connectivity of Audi’s commitment to redefine mobility as a whole.