Audi presented a trio of cars that represents the next three steps towards autonomous driving. Its A8 limousine, due mid-2018, will be the first car with level 3 autonomy, where the driver can take their hands off the wheel for extended periods at 60km/h under specified conditions. Its Sportback Elaine concept envisages the look of a level 4 car, where autonomy is total within defined areas.
Most futuristic of all, Aicon is a vision of a luxury four-door four-seater with level 5 autonomy, in which a wheel and pedals are no longer required. The Aicon’s doors open gate-style to reveal a spacious interior widened at eye level by convex glass. The front seats swivel and slide while the entire cabin is encircled by a control panel with displays that move in sync with the seats. The exterior features enormous 26-inch wheels and uninterrupted surfaces. Instead of headlights and tail-lights, large “light fields” become signalling devices to other road users, indicating when the car is accelerating, braking or warning of dangerous situations. With four motors, Aicon is all-wheel drive and prioritises efficiency, with a range up to 800km.