New-Audi-A8-allows-driver-to-take-hands-off-wheelOf course, as we all know, most owners of luxury cars will most likely be able to relax in the back whilst their chauffeur does the driving. But the new A8, set to be unveiled mid 2017, will partially dispense with the need for a driver altogether.

Well, not really. But the latest version of Audi’s most exclusive vehicle allows “highly automated driving on the highway” at speeds of up to 37mph.

“In the first application stage, the car takes over the task of driving. The driver can then do other things as long as he or she remains alert”, stated Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi’s board of management at the company’s recent AGM.

“In slowly moving traffic on the highway at speeds of up to 60kph (37mph), it will be possible to take one’s hands from the steering wheel and switch over to the data highway, where our information and entertainment services will be available,” he added.

The A8 should be able to take much of the load whilst in towns and cities too, Stadler claimed: “We see potential for highly automated driving also in the city, where traffic is highly complex.”

In addition to this, the next ten years should see the introduction of robot taxis, Stadler predicted. Motorists will soon be driving in cars without a steering wheel or pedals on “pre-defined short journeys”.

As for exactly when these features will arrive, the Audi boss sees legal delays to the implementation of self-driving technology:  “As soon as legislation is passed in our core markets allowing highly automated driving on the highway, and when that is legally safe, we will offer the new key technology in the Audi A8.”

Audi is heading up the VW Group’s self-driving developments, having just founded a separate company called Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH – a platform that is open to contributions from automotive and IT partners.


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