Audi AI Will Bring Level 3 Autonomous Driving To Whoever’s Ready

3 months ago by Sebastian Blanco 25

Audi AI

Audi AI logo

Audi AI logo

Audi isn’t going to stop promoting its vehicles as performance-oriented vehicles you’ll enjoy driving just yet. There will come a time in the future, though, when any suitably tech-laden passenger car will be able to drive itself. Exactly how the brand (and all automakers, really) will shift to selling you a fancy, moving living room is a question for the marketers to answer. For now, the company wants you to know that your fun-to-drive Audi can sometimes – conveniently, just those times when you’d be bored driving anyway – take control of the wheel.

This is where Audi is making its first big automated driving play, with the new A8 sedan, due to arrive in Europe later this year before coming to the U.S. Audi says that the A8 will be the first car to have a full Level 3 autonomous system. Level 3 is defined as letting the driver not pay any attention to the road at all, but only under certain circumstances. In the A8, “certain circumstances” means slow moving traffic, in which case the Audi AI traffic jam pilot will take over.

Audi A7 piloted driving

The limiting factors for the traffic jam pilot are a top speed of 60 kilometers an hour (about 37 miles per hour) on a divided highway with clear markings. When you’re moving that slow, the virtual cockpit will alert the driver that the AI system can take over. If the driver engages it, the traffic jam pilot will keep the A8 moving in the lane, come to a complete stop if needed, and, when traffic clears up, there will be 10 seconds of visual and audio alerts to get the driver back in control. If you don’t grab the wheel, the car will stop in the middle of the lane. Audi’s main priority in all of this is to make sure its smart cars are safe.

There’s comfort, too. As I noted the other day, the A8’s autopark feature will work with the wireless charging pad that will be built into every A8 E-Tron.

All of Audi’s self-driving efforts are part of what Audi believes will be an evolution in autonomous driving tech, not a revolution. One of the key promotional selling points of Audi AI is the “25th Hour,” the idea that instead of spending an hour in traffic every day, you will have an extra hour to do the things you want to do: sleep, get online, watch something, etc. Technically, “25th Hour” is the name of Audi’s project to understand what people will want to do in a self-driving car, and how they will interact with the vehicle and others in the car. Or, in press release speak:

The interior adapts itself so that the user can enjoy the best possible relaxation, make the most of family and friends or even complete a bit of work. Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO), Audi is currently investigating how digital signals, light moods and auditive stimuli in the car affect the human organism, for example in relation to stress levels or concentration. Findings from this are intended to inspire interior and usability designers in turning the car of the future into a picture perfect workplace.

The tech-lovers A8 with all of these self-driving features will become available in 2018, wherever possible. Since there’s no general law allowing autonomous driving throughout the EU, for example, and each U.S. state is setting its own rules, the cars will need to know where they are. Audi said that some of these AI features will be turned on and off as the car goes across borders, and the company won’t allow any self-driving feature to be available in a region unless it is certain the cars can handle any driving situation there and everything is legal. Sometimes, the hardest part about new technology is the people.

Source: Audi

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25 responses to "Audi AI Will Bring Level 3 Autonomous Driving To Whoever’s Ready"

  1. La Frennia di Mamata says:

    AUDI VW should start by bringing a Legit EV Car to market first and then once they have a Car they do all this other great stuff .l o l .. So far they’ve been flapping their gums and brought forth a lot of “BS” and vaporware to market. They’ve had nothing but Hog Wash to bring forth thus far.

    1. says:

      ICE cars support level 3 just as much as EV’s…there’s no connection here.

  2. georgeS says:

    “and, when traffic clears up, there will be 10 seconds of visual and audio alerts to get the driver back in control. If you don’t grab the wheel, the car will stop in the middle of the lane.”

    At higher speed when it transitions back to driver control does that mean it goes into auto steer with hands required on the steering wheel as the Tesla, or no auto steer at all above 60 KPH???

    1. Dan says:

      Is it really a traffic jam if you’re traveling above 60kph???

      1. georgeS says:

        “Is it really a traffic jam if you’re traveling above 60kph???”

        Of course not but I think I have a valid question. What happens after 38 MPH? Are you saying there’s no auto steer like Tesla’s above 38 MPH? The German genius at Audi can come up with a full level 3 AP at less than 38 MPH but they can’t do human assist auto steer above that like Tesla?

        1. Dan says:

          Your first question is answered by the very name “Traffic Jam Pilot”.

          Your second statement would be unnecessary if you read through the article to the bit about “Audi’s main priority in all of this is to make sure its smart cars are safe.” Their culture is not one of releasing such features without deeper testing cycles. If you really want untested features with over the air updates, why not get a Tesla? That’s a better fit or you.

          1. georgeS says:

            wow quite an accomplishment. Level 3 autonomy all the way to 38 MPH. LOL.

          2. pjwood1 says:

            It only gets easier, to be negative. Audi couldn’t make driving dangerous enough, with Level 3. They had to increase touch-screen distractions in their newer cars, like the A8.

            I read this line, today:
            “Behavioral issues such as love of driving, fear of new technology or habit
            are generally believed to pose initial barriers to consumer uptake. However,
            Pre-TaaS companies such as Uber, Lyft and Didi have invested billions of
            dollars developing technologies and services to overcome these issues.”

            The love of driving, a “barrier issue”. How dare people who buy cars get in the way. Put on your robe, and get with the program.

      2. MaartenV-nl says:

        In Europe traffic jam conditions occur to up to 120kph. This system is awful, constantly switching between modes.

        Level 3 autonomous is hijacked by marketing drones, it used to be called the suicide level, to be avoided at all costs.
        If you are napping you can not always take full control in a few seconds, and in emergency situations, you can have far less than a few seconds to take over.

        Hence the name Level 3 = suicide level.

    2. jpo234 says:

      “If the driver does take over and accelerate to highway speed, the A8 will still be semi-autonomous at Level 2, meaning the adaptive cruise control and lane centering assist work in conjunction to cruise with the driver’s hands lightly on the wheel and the driver paying attention. That’s like a number of other cars currently on the market.”

  3. Nix says:

    “If you don’t grab the wheel, the car will stop in the middle of the lane”

    Not to single out Audi, but I wish they all would first try and find somehow to get off the road instead of stopping in the middle of a lane. Stopping in the middle of a lane of traffic is actually illegal in many places, and may actually be a bigger hazard to traffic than simply continuing autonomously a little bit longer in order to get off the road. GPS and auto park should be able to figure that out, and only resort to stopping in the middle of a lane as a very last resort when it can’t get off the road.

    1. La Frennia di Mamata says:

      It’ll a long time coming before they need to figure out how to get it off the road if it stops.. Because they will never have one of these EV cars that will be road worthy and in Production for at least 20 or more yrs at the pace they’re going .

      1. georgeS says:

        “Because they will never have one of these EV cars that will be road worthy and in Production for at least 20 or more yrs at the pace they’re going .”

        -La Frennia

        The car referenced in this article is a plug in Hybrid not an EV

      2. Bla blubb says:

        The Audi A8 will go on sales very soon, so stop repeating the same mantra

  4. Roger says:

    Why are these bold-words-maniacs at Audi always claiming first, first, first. It’s a straight lie! Tesla Autopilot Hardware 1 has been doing that for years already – at higher speeds! German carmakers = big words + even bigger ego + fancy concepts + no tangible results.

    1. La Frennia di Mamata says:

      Germans are The Best, The smartest, & the toughest..Remember “Joe Louis” when he set them straight.

    2. Manuel says:

      Tesla Autopilot is not a Level 3 system!

      The Tesla driver can take his hands off the steering wheel, but he still has to monitor the driving and he must be able to intervene instantaneously. The Audi system doesn’t need to be monitored at all. The driver can shift his attention completely away from the driving to doing other things like reading a book. And he also doesn’t need to be able to intervene immediately, but within 10 seconds.

      1. MaartenV-nl says:

        The system can either handle any calamity and be a lvl 4 system, or be clairvoyant to see any calamity it can not handle coming at least ten seconds in the future.
        It is neither.
        In case of calamity, the driver has to be able to take over in a split second, like the Tesla autopilot user / driver has to do.

        Lvl 3 can never be a road save system, to be avoided at all costs, even to the frustration of your marketing drones!!

      2. bogdan says:

        That explains why is working only below 60kph. Stil very weak perfomance.
        Oh, and it’s working only on high ways. Don’t think of driving in the city or so…

      3. pjwood1 says:

        I’ll keep Tesla’s Level 2, and the peripheral vision they allow, over the number of times I go over/under 38mph, in traffic. That would make for a lot of manual/automatic/manual interruptions, for me.

    3. jpo234 says:

      This goes beyond the current capabilities of Tesla’s Autopilot.

      1. Stimpy says:

        Is sounds like Telsa AP is fully able to handle this today on their existing fleet *if* they were willing to limit it’s use to less than 37 mph, well marked divided lane roads, etc.

        I think Tesla rightly considers those criteria to be limiting to the point of uselessness. A marketing feature and nothing more.

  5. James says:

    I’m ready now. It’s not like driving to work or the store is therapeutic or stress-reducing, or like I’m racing the car. I’m ready for rear-facing seats with a table for my computer. I love to drive, but I’d rather race on a track occasionally and leave commuting to a computer.

  6. Phaeton says:

    Tesla AP1 can handle slow traffic quite well, either staying in the lane or following the car in front, almost certainly as well as this system. Tesla shows its commitment to safety by requiring the driver to stay engaged, and so when the jam breaks up the car can continue to cruise speed without threatening to jam everything up again.

    1. ffe 1 says:

      +1 – I drove about 80% autonomously in our S from Seattle to Vancouver. It was especially useful in bumper to bumper traffic and a the border. Letting the car stop and start and steer in those situations was one of the best applications of auto pilot and it worked great. Staying away from the right lane where there were uninterrupted lines worked pretty much flawlessly as well.
      Tesla has and has had a system that works well – interesting that Audi acts like it is reinventing the wheel or something. I don’t think the turning around and reading the paper kind of driving will be with us until dedicated autonomous lanes are established – I give it another 5 – 10 years.

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