The last week of February has been a big technology news week for Audi. The automaker announced the battery-electric Audi A3 e-tron pilot program in the U.S. at TED2012. Their A8 flagship sedan also won the first annual Connected World Connected Car of the Year award. The A8 is the first car to feature wi-fi installed by the factory.
In addition, Autoblog reported on future technologies Audi is developing and refining which potentially could be integrated in upcoming models. Here are the highlights:
Wireless EV Charging: It may be at least a year before an all electric Audi vehicle is available but the automaker is already working with WiTricity Corporation on coil-based wireless charging. The system works by transmitting electricity from a coil in the ground to a coil inside the vehicle.
OLED Lighting: You could say Audi is lighting obsessed, basing their recent Superbowl commercial on the LED’s currently available on its vehicles. Organic light emitting diodes (OLED) is a lighting technology already starting to show up in consumer electronics and Audi could use it to create dynamic exterior and interior vehicle lighting. OLED’s are more like a film and have the ability to chance color and intensity when layered. Within two years Audi could use OLED’s as side marker lights and interior lights. Further out, the technology could transform brake lights into displays that deliver braking intensity and speed information to drivers behind.
Multitouch and Gesture Controls: Audi already has a touchpad available in the current A8 and they were the first automaker to bring the technology to a production vehicle. Speculation is they are working on a new multitouch system which will function more like those on current generation smartphones and tablets. The new system could be tied to a head-up display so drivers wouldn’t need to look away from the road. An issue is where to locate the pad and how the traditional design of the steering wheel might evolve to become a better touch interface.
Perceptive suspension: Using an array of cameras and lasers, the car can scan the road ahead and ‘sync’ the vehicle’s suspension to oncoming changes in the condition of the road. This may seem pretty sci-fi, but Mercedes-Benz is also working on a version of this technology. It could be available in the next A8 model.
Auto Park: Imagine driving up to a parking garage and pressing a button and the car not only finds an available space but drives there automatically, with or without you in the car. This is probably the furthest out technology Audi has hinted at but it isn’t that far out of reach. The system would use a network of sensors embedded in the garage floor, robots in factories already use this, to guide the vehicle. Audi owners could retrieve and pay for their car via their smartphone at the garage entrance.