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Audi unveils AI:ME self-driving EV concept at Shanghai

At Auto Shanghai 2019, Audi is introducing the Audi AI:ME, an electric showcar offering compact dimensions, a spacious, futuristic interior, and the ability to drive autonomously at level 4. The Audi AI:ME offers a broad range of high-tech features for communication, entertainment, or relaxation.

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Audi took a targeted approach to tailoring the specifications of the AI:ME to the scope of use of a city car. This means that extreme acceleration values and top highway speeds are just as obsolete as high cornering speeds and ranges that are suitable for driving long distances.

An automobile like the AI:ME will drive predominantly in the speed range between 20 and 70 km/h (12.4 and 43.5 mph) and will often have to remain mobile for hours at a time without charging. However, long ranges in terms of kilometers are less relevant than the ability to make good use of the operating time.

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The engineers therefore drew on a comparatively simple, yet light, basic configuration. A 65 kWh battery unit is sufficient for meeting these requirements. A permanently excited synchronous motor that can mobilize 125 kW (170 metric hp) if necessary operates in the area of the rear axle of the AI:ME. A fraction of this is usually sufficient for keeping up with the flow of city traffic. Thanks to brake energy recuperation and its comparatively low weight, the Audi AI:ME exhibits extremely low energy consumption even in city traffic.

The axles and other components of the suspension are found in the portfolio of compact sister models of the Audi portfolio. The tried and tested combination of adaptive dampers and small unsprung masses ensures good ride comfort in the city. The body is made of a light-weight multi-material compound consisting of high-tech steel, aluminum, and plastic components, particularly in the attachments.

With an exterior length of 4.30 meters (14.1 ft) and a width of 1,90 meters (6.2 ft), the Audi AI:ME takes up as much traffic space as a present-day compact car. However, the wheelbase of 2.77 meters (3 ft) and the height of 1.52 meters (5 ft) indicate interior dimensions that are more likely to be found in the next higher class at least. This is made possible by the architecture of the electric drive. It allows for short overhangs and a large-volume interior without a prop shaft tunnel.

For the occupants, the compact drive package offers a maximum amount of objectively available space, spatial comfort, and a great deal of variability. The Audi AI:ME is designed as a 2 plus-x-seater. Its layout relies on a variety of configurations for seat positions and stowage space. While only the individual seats at the front will be used during most journeys, the car offers space for up to four people in the front and on the rear bench if necessary.

Audi AI: on the way to automated mobility. Audi AI is the cipher for a variety of electronic systems that relieve strain on drivers and simultaneously offer them new possibilities to use the time spent in the car. To this end, Audi AI also uses strategies and technologies from the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Audi AI also combines vehicle intelligence, which makes automated driving possible in the first place, and interaction intelligence, which turns the vehicle into the occupants’ partner. The name of the Audi AI:ME thus already makes the connection between AI and the users themselves.

Audi AI systems are capable of learning and thinking, while also being proactive and personal. With Audi AI, models will be both intelligent and empathetic in the future. They will be able to continually interact with their surroundings and passengers, and thus adapt themselves to the requirements of those on board.

Automated driving at level 4. The Audi AI:ME is designed for use in the city and for driving at SAE level 4. Although systems with level 4 do not require any assistance on the part of the driver, their function is limited to a specific area such as highways or a specially equipped area in inner cities.

In these places, the driver can completely transfer the task of driving to the system. The driver needs to resume the task only when the car leaves the area defined for fully automated driving. By contrast to the Audi AIcon design vision introduced in 2017 (earlier post), a vehicle with level-5 function that is always fully autonomous, the Audi AI:ME is also equipped with the traditional steering wheel and pedal controls.

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The vehicle and as the communication and interaction systems are operated by means of eye tracking, voice input, and touch-sensitive fields in the door rail. They are integrated into the surface, making them invisible. The lighting is activated only when approached, and guides the user’s gaze to the functional surfaces.

There is a multifunctional, three-dimensional OLED monitor that runs below and along the entire length of the windshield and is used primarily in dialogue with eye-tracking control. Terminologically coded function menus, for example for navigation or infotainment, can be activated with the eye and then open up further levels that move from the background into the sharp view mode on the 3D monitor.

There are VR goggles on board for the visual output of the infotainment system. They turn Internet use, watching movies, or even interactive gaming into a fascinating experience for the passengers. Audi demonstrated the possibilities that await us in the future with the Holoride system at the CES 2019 in Las Vegas. Here, the vehicle’s own movement is detected by a sensor system and then integrated interactively into the visual course of a game. Passengers feel like they are literally in the midst of the action.

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