Audi has long been one of the world’s most innovative car manufacturers. If you have any doubt that is true, consider this list of technologies we assembled with the help of Audi of Wilmington, DE.
Active suspension uses an electric motor at each corner of the suspension to raise or lower the attached wheel depending on road conditions. At its core, this system allows for active anti-roll, anti-pitch, and anti-dive, similar to systems from other cars. However, the Audi A8’s goes one step further by using those wheel motors to raise or lower the suspension in anticipation of bumps. The way this works is that the system gets its input from a forward-facing camera evaluating the road surface for upcoming obstacles and commanding the suspension to move appropriately. With it enabled, there’s almost no indication the car drove over anything but a perfectly smooth road.
48-Volt Electrical System
The A8 is the second Audi with a 48-volt system. In the A8, it’s needed to power the active suspension actuators and for the mild-hybrid starter-generator. The 48-volt battery is a 10 amp-hour lithium-ion unit mounted at the rear of the car. The majority of the car’s electrical system still runs on a traditional 12-volt battery that’s mounted in the trunk
Natural Handwriting Recognition
The 8.6-inch touchscreen at the bottom of the center stack primarily serves as an infotainment center but it can switch to work as a virtual keyboard or as a place to write words, letters, and numbers. When entering a navigation address, you can simply write an entire word, such as “13 Thompson Lane, Durham” and the system takes it from there.
Fully Electric Door Handles
Both the interior and exterior handles on some Audi’s are electric, so you need but the gentlest touch to the open them. Aside from making opening the door ever-so-slightly easier, the electric handles are critical for enabling the safety feature listed in the next bullet point.
Making Side-Impacts Less Violent
Audi attempts to combat side-impacts by quickly raising the active suspension on one side of the vehicle by 8 centimeters if it detects an impending collision from the side. The goal is to focus the other vehicle’s impact onto the Audi’s lower rail below the doors, as that’s much stronger than the door panels themselves.
Nobody wants to open their car door into the path of a cyclist or another vehicle, so the Audi A8 has a system to prevent you from opening the door in those situations. If the blind-spot sensors detect an object approaching from behind when you pull the electric door handle to exit, the system will wait 0.8 seconds before allowing the door to actually open – an amount of time Audi hopes will allow the other person to pass safely.
Wireless Phone Booster
Some Audi vehicles offer wireless charging that also boosts the phone’s cellular signal, transmitting it through the car’s roof-mounted antenna to improve reception. After all, the inside of a metal box is hardly the best place for your phone to get a strong wireless link.
Dynamic All-Wheel Steering
On some Audi models, the rear wheels can pivot up to 5 degrees in the opposite direction of the fronts at low speeds. It’s also coupled with variable-ratio steering, meaning that in parking situations, far fewer hand-over-hand steering wheel turns are required. Whenever you park the car and shut it off, the rear wheels automatically reset themselves to the straight-ahead position.
Advanced 3D Camera System
In-car 360-degree camera systems are nothing new, but Audi adds a few extra features thanks to some clever image processing. For starters, there’s a new 3D view that lets you pan and pinch-to-zoom on a virtual recreation of your car. It’s as if there’s a drone filming the car from the outside, providing an amazingly clear look at your surroundings, yet all the footage comes from four small cameras. If you start driving with the system active, the wheel on the virtual recreation of your car on the screen even turns.
Perhaps the coolest illumination on the road is Audi’s laser headlight option. Above 44 miles per hour, Audi’s laser headlights can illuminate to “double” the distance you can see with the high beams on, at least in Europe. Unfortunately, in the U.S., regulations require that the laser system be limited so that it does not project any farther ahead of the car than standard ones would. It will still be bright, just less powerful than in Europe.