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Audi Aicon Concept is another take on our fully autonomous future

13 September 2017 - Autoblog

Audi Aicon Concept is another take on our fully autonomous future

The future is coming, and it is autonomous. That's the message behind the Audi Aicon Concept — AI for artificial intelligence, naturally.

The four-door lozenge-shaped vehicle seats four, though it's really oriented for a couple, is fully electric, and is huge. At an inch shy of 18 feet long, it's significantly larger than the German company's flagship A8 luxury sedan. The Aicon is so big, in fact, that the 26-inch wheels it wears actually look appropriate.

When cars can drive themselves, traditional headlights won't be necessary. In their place, Audi has fitted the Aicon with more than 600 individual pixels that serve as a digital display to give information to other vehicles and pedestrians. Audi likens these mini billboards to eyes, and indeed has programmed them with pupils that change size and follow people. Sounds creepy.

Portal-like doors open to the front and rear with no B-pillar in between. Access to the cavernous interior and its luxurious lounge-like seats is thus unimpeded. There are eye tracking cameras, voice control modules, and haptic surfaces inside, but there are no pedals and no steering wheel. That leaves passengers free to communicate with PIA, which Audi describes as an "empathetic electronic vehicle assistant." Still sounds creepy.

Since the computers are in full control, "accidents will be a thing of the past." That means seatbelts, airbags, and other safety equipment are completely absent from the Aicon. Are you totally creeped out yet?

Four electric motors, one for each wheel, deliver a total of 349 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That might not seem like much these days, but remember, you're being driven. Far more important is the Aicon's range of nearly 500 miles per charge, and the quick-charge capability that allows an 80 percent topup in just 30 minutes..

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