At the onset of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi is displaying the two new concepts; Audi Elaine and Audi Aicon. The Audi Elaine and Aicon are world premiering at the 67th IAA Frankfurt Motor show.
The Audi Elaine is an electric-powered SUV coupe that in a few short years will make highly automated driving possible. At the other corner, the Aicon is the other autonomous Audi of the future. Both concepts are designed for purely electric operation and should be able to cover distances between 700 and 800 kilometers on a single charge.
Audi Elaine: a precursor to the future
The exterior of the Audi Elaine concept has a distinctive exterior lighting with the precursor to the second production electric car from Audi. 23-inch wheels in a technical 6-spoke design highlight the confident presence of the SUV coupe, whilst an exterior length of 4.90 meters (16.1 ft), a width of 1.98 meters (6.5 ft) and a height of 1.53 meters (5.0 ft) with a wheelbase of 2.93 meters (9.6 ft) position the Audi Elaine in the C segment, close to the Audi A7.
The interior is bright and designed for simplicity. Functions are clearly structured, the number of control elements vastly reduced. Expansive touchscreens below the central display, on the center console and in the door trims supply information and interact with the on-board systems. Horizontal surfaces on the dashboard and the seemingly floating center console convey a sense of open perspectives for the four passengers in their individual seats.
The concept car’s lighting technology is an innovation that is visible both during the day and at night. Digitally controlled Matrix LED units at the front and rear produce an excellent light yield. Minuscule Digital Matrix projectors literally make their mark on the road ahead, turning light into a versatile, dynamic channel of communication with the surroundings.
For its drive, the Audi Elaine uses a configuration that Audi will use in future production models with all-electric drive: One electric motor on the front axle and two on the rear power all four wheels, transforming the high-performance coupé into a quattro in typical Audi style. With 320 kilowatts of power, increasable to 370 kW in boost mode, the Audi Elaine will provide a fitting level of propulsion. The Audi Elaine sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in just 4.5 seconds and with the battery’s energy content of 95 kilowatt-hours, its range is in excess of 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) (NEDC). There are two options for charging the battery: a wired fast charging function at 150 kW or wireless charging via the Audi Wireless Charging system.
The Audi Elaine has numerous functions that push the envelope for piloted driving and assistance systems, and in a few years will also extend the scope of Audi AI in production models. The foundation is provided by a much more advanced zFAS controller installed in the rear. This new generation processor will have more computing power and refined sensors with even greater range and precision. At the same time, the Audi Elaine can therefore serve its owner as a highway pilot, relieving the burden on the driver over extended distances. The highway pilot is an extension of the traffic jam pilot in the A8 and allows piloted driving at speeds from 60 to 130 km/h (37.3 to 80.8 mph), which in most countries is the maximum permissible speed.
The Audi Elaine continues to support the driver after leaving the highway and multilane urban freeways behind. All of the usual driver assistance systems are on board, including the pre sense safety technologies and the predictive efficiency assistant, which can be provided with even more precise route details from the HERE navigation data. With increased infotainment functions and a further reduced need for the driver to focus on the driving aspect, coupled with ever-faster Internet connections, it will be even more conducive for people to work from their autonomous vehicle, even making video conference calls through a HUD (Head’s-Up Display).
The idea of Personal Intelligent Assistant (PIA) is also a function of the future that can learn and then help standardise routine operations autonomously. Using artificial intelligence methods and machine learning, PIA combines data intelligently (vehicles date, driver data, traffic jam reports and traffic projections, as well as information from the internet.
The Audi Aicon concept car: Fully autonomous for the future
The Audi Aicon demonstrates the very epitome of the autonomous luxury sedan of the future with unprecedented consistency. As a design study, the four-door 2+2 boldly leaps ahead to show the exterior and interior design of the next decades. The technology demonstrator combines innovations relating to the drivetrain, suspension, digitalization and sustainability in a visionary manner.
And as a mobility concept, the Audi Aicon shows the world of tomorrow, in which the advantages of door-to-door individual transportation are combined with the luxurious ambience of a first-class airline cabin; possessing no steering wheel or pedals, but fully loaded with luxurious and ergonomic accommodation and the full range of infotainment technology.
From the exterior, the Audi Aicon is the very definition of presence, with its sheer size, an exterior length of 5,444 millimeters (17.9 ft), a width of 2,100 millimeters (6.9 ft) and a height of 1,506 millimeters (4.9 ft) placing it firmly in the top tier of automobiles. In fact, the wheelbase measures 3,470 millimeters (11.4 ft), about 240 millimeters (9.4 in) more than with the long-wheelbase version of the new Audi A8.
The central element of the exterior is the cabin. Large glass surfaces at the front and rear as well as the ,significantly convex side windows create a bright expanse of space for the travelers. A distinct edge runs as a hard line along the side window surfaces of the Aicon back to the D pillar, a first in automotive design. Giant 26-inch wheels are flared out from the flanks of the vehicle, underscoring its impressive presence. As with the Audi e-tron Sportback concept, the Aicon front features the inverted hexagonal Singleframe, a typical feature of the upcoming generation of electric cars from Audi. The sharply inclined silhouette of the entire front end evokes a sense of forging ahead, like a typical sports car body line.
Conventional headlights and lighting units are absent from both the front and rear of this car. Instead there are fully digital display surfaces comprising hundreds of triangular pixel segments. They are three-dimensional recreations of the Audi AI symbol. Grouped around the Singleframe are large light fields, in which, as at the rear, more than 600 3D pixels are arranged in space.
The large surfaces and high pixel count enable versatile graphics, animations and information visualizations in any color. The Audi Aicon is thus no longer bound to a daytime running lights look, but rather can adapt to the driving situation and even its passengers, thanks to horizontally cut lighting segments to the left and right of the Singleframe. Additionally, the Aicon uses projector modules to illuminate the road and surroundings in high resolution and project signals onto the ground.
The Audi Aicon’s laser and radar sensor system also “sees” enough even in the dark, can reliably find the way and detects possible obstacles in good time.
Getting inside the Audi Aicon utilizes the opposed doors that open to the front and rear, negating the need for a B-pillar. In the interior, the lines of the decorative surfaces and functional elements are markedly horizontal. Becoming lighter from bottom to top, the interior reinforces the impression of unique spaciousness, and the lack of a steering wheel creates a sense of openness and expanse. This is further underscored by the large glass surfaces, the transparent roof and the low waist line.
The interior quickly comes to life once passengers enter. Illuminated lines of LEDs set colorful accents in the area of the doors. The front display lights up with a welcome message. PIA, the empathetic electronic vehicle assistant, recognizes the passenger by his phone and activates all of his personal settings. There are custom settings for the air conditioning and seating position, interior light color and the layout of the infotainment system. The navigation system awaits entry of a destination, and all accessible channels of communication are ready for use, connected via the fastest available standard.
As a 2+2-seater with two individual seats designed for maximum comfort in the front and an upholstered, two-seat bench in the rear, the Audi Aicon is built to be easily configurable to suit the number and needs of its passengers. Passengers of the Audi Aicon can slide the front seats up to 500 mm (19.7 in) back or forth in order to maximise space for the front or rear compartments respectively. These seats don’t slide on rails, but rather on a platform covered in high-pile carpet that can be moved longitudinally, and on which the passengers’ feet also rest. Furthermore, there are adjustabl seat cushions, backrests, seats that swivel 15 degrees, storage for up 660 liters front and rear, and numerous small item compartments.
In place of the steering wheel, pedals, groups of buttons and instruments is…nothing but wide, uninterrupted surface, Instead of a dashboard in front of them, there is a generous shelf and the central display below the windshield.
A highly efficient electric drive provides for the dynamics of the Audi Aicon. A total of four electric motors are located in the area of the front and rear axles. The energy storage units are integrated into the area below the floor as solid body batteries with considerably more energy capacity than lithium-ion batteries. The Aicon has an estimated range of more than 800 kilometers (497.1 mi) on a single charge. Charging has been reduced to a minimum. Thanks to a high-voltage system with 800 volts, the Aicon’s battery unit can be charged to 80 percent of capacity in less than 30 minutes.
As a true quattro, the Audi Aicon offers ample performance and even autonomously always reaches its destination safely regardless of the weather or road surface. The suspension is designed for maximum comfort. Pneumatic spring and damper units smooth out any road surface irregularities. And electric actuators at all four wheels actively counteract any body lean, whether when cornering, accelerating or braking. As a fully active suspension system, it also optimizes the qualities of the adaptive air suspension.
The axle and drive units in the Audi Aicon are symmetrical, meaning that they are identical at the front and rear. Mechanical components, such as the steering shaft or steering hydraulics, have been eliminated. The car is therefore equipped with a complete all-wheel steering system without compromising the available space and thus the passenger compartment.
Despite its long wheelbase of nearly 3.47 meters (11.4 ft), the car is extremely agile due to its two steerable axles – the turning radius of only 8.50 meters (27.9 ft) is below that of a small car thus making the Audi Aicon suitable for city center driving.
In a nutshell, the Aicon is an all-rounder well prepared for autonomous driving in an urban environment and on the highway with an unprecedented range for an electric drive.