At the world’s most important electronics trade show Audi presented its technologies of today and it’s solutions of tomorrow with its tag line of “Electronics trends over the next decade”, with the focus being on networking the car with it’s environment. More specifically future piloted driving, operating and display, lighting technology and infotainment.
Audi is the driving force in the driver assistance systems space. Audi developers are constantly working on new technologies that provide drivers with even better assistance. Assistance systems are rapidly increasing in importance – in the near future we will see systems that are able to assume the complete driving task for a limited period of time, if so desired by the driver. Audi refers to this concept as piloted driving.
Driver assistance systems of today
From Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function to traffic sign recognition – right across its model range, Audi offers a broad assortment of assistance systems that make driving even more relaxed and under control. The assistance systems are closely integrated, providing them with a high degree of intelligence and outstanding capabilities.
Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) with Stop & Go function acts as the core component of the Audi driver assistance systems. The system regulates the speed and the distance from the vehicle in front over a range of zero to 250 km/h (zero to 155.34 mph).
The ACC Stop & Go function employs one or two rear-mounted radar sensors depending on the configuration. The sensors transmit radar waves in order to detect objects up to 250 meters (820.21 ft) ahead of the vehicle. The driver can vary the distance to the vehicle ahead and the control dynamics in multiple levels – from sporty to comfortable. In stop & go traffic the system slows down the car to a standstill. After a brief stop, such as at a traffic light, it automatically drives off and follows the vehicle ahead; after a longer stop, the driver must tap the accelerator pedal or briefly activate the control stalk. Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function interacts closely with other driver assistance systems; it utilizes the data from almost 30 control units to analyze all of the vehicle’s surroundings. The system uses this broad knowledge base to recognize complex scenarios and offer anticipatory support to the driver. Because it works in conjunction with the MMI Navigation plus, it knows which route lies ahead and can use this information to control the vehicle’s speed.
Audi offers a number of versions of adaptive cruise control for different model series – including without the Stop & Go function. The individual versions differ slightly in their mode of operation due to the different degrees of networking and configurations.
Audi active lane assist
Audi active lane assist is available for most model lines which feature electromechanical power steering. It detects the road markings at a distance of over 50 meters (164.04 ft) and a scanning angle of about 40 degrees using a camera mounted in front of the rearview mirror. Software detects the lane markings and the car’s actual course between them. If the vehicle approaches a line without the turn signal being activated, the system helps the driver to steer back into the lane by intervening discretely in the steering.
The driver uses the MMI to set how soon the intervention should occur and whether it should be combined with vibration feedback in the steering wheel. If the driver opts for early intervention, the system keeps the car centered in the lane.
The camera of the Audi active lane assist provides differentiated information. For example, it can differentiate between the yellow lines in construction zones and white lines.
Audi side assist
The lane change assistant Audi side assist is available for various Audi models. It monitors traffic behind the vehicle and warns the driver of critical lane changes as necessary. The system begins to operate at a speed of about 30 km/h (18.64 mph). Two radar sensors in the rear monitor what is happening behind the vehicle up to a distance of 70 meters (229.66 ft). A computer analyzes the data from these sensors.
If a vehicle is riding in the blind spot or approaching rapidly from the rear, the information stage is activated. A yellow LED indicator lights up in the housing of the driver’s exterior mirror; the driver sees it when looking into the mirror. If the driver nevertheless activates the turn signal to change lanes, the indicator becomes brighter and flashes multiple times. The optical signals are aimed at the driver. Their brightness varies according to the ambient light level and can be set individually via the MMI.
The night vision assistant
The core component of the night vision assistant is a thermal imaging camera with a 24-degree scanning angle located at the front of the vehicle. The camera, which operates in the far infrared region (FIR), registers heat radiated by objects in the field of view. A computer converts the information from the camera into black and white images and shows them on the central instrument display.
Far infrared technology can look up to 300 meters (984.25 ft) ahead – far beyond the range of the high beams – and it is not affected by glare from headlights or similar light sources. People tend to be conspicuously bright and thus easy to spot in the image due to the heat they give off, whereas the cooler surroundings appear dark.
The image processing software can detect persons up to a range of approximately 100 meters (328.08 ft) within the system constraints. In analyzing the data, it specifically seeks out characteristics of pedestrians, e.g. their contours; any person detected is highlighted in yellow on the screen. If the system predicts a hazard – for example, because a person is crossing the road in front of the car – the person is marked in red and a warning tone sounds. A warning also appears in the optional head-up display.
Audi’s automatic parking systems operate by means of either ultrasound or cameras, which display images via the onboard monitor. One particularly convenient solution is park assist. When backing into a parking space, it performs all the necessary steering movements; it can handle both parallel parking and parking perpendicular to the street. The system finds a parking space with ultrasound sensors that scan the roadside in two dimensions while driving at moderate speed. The system notifies the driver via a message in the display once the sensors have found a space which is large enough.
If the driver wishes to park in the space, he or she shifts into reverse and the park assist system takes over the steering. The driver must accelerate, shift gears, and brake. When parallel parking, the detected space is large enough if it is about 80 centimeters (2.62 ft) longer than the vehicle itself. Park assist can perform multi-point parking maneuvers and also offers support in leaving parallel parking spaces.
Another technology from Audi is the parking system plus with surround view cameras. Four small cameras – in the single-frame grille, at the rear and in the side mirror housings – record the vehicle’s immediate surroundings. The driver can call up a variety of views on the large onboard monitor, including a top-down virtual view. On corners or junctions with an obstructed view, the system can analyze cross-traffic otherwise invisible to the driver in front of or behind the vehicle.
Speed limit display
The camera-based speed limit display shows the driver the detected maximum allowable speed in the instrument cluster or head-up display. The camera mounted behind the rearview mirror serves as the primary sensor. Within system constraints, it detects speed limit signs posted on the side of the road, as well as digital speed signs. The system compares the signs against the data from the navigation system, the maximum permissible speeds in the respective country and information from the vehicle, such as whether the wipers are on and the current time.
Audi pre sense
Audi pre sense is a safety package that is available in several Audi model series, including in the new Audi A3, in a number of different configurations. Audi pre sense basic – the system evaluates information from the ESP sensors. If they signal full braking or skidding, depending on the situation, the system activates the hazard warning lights and begins to close the windows and sunroof; it also pretensions the front seat belts. This pretensioning process, which is initiated by small electric motors, is reversible.
The safety system’s configurations are: Audi pre sense front, Audi pre sense rear and Audi pre sense plus. They work closely together with the Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function and Audi side assist driver assistance systems.
Audi pre sense front monitors traffic in front of the car for potential collision hazards. The system provides multiple levels of driver support. The first stage consists of a visual and audible signal, the second is a jolt caused by briefly applying the brakes to warn the driver. If the driver begins braking, then the system helps by adjusting the required brake pressure.
Should the driver remain passive, partial braking follows as the third stage. This initially decelerates the vehicle with about one-third of the possible brake force. Windows and the sunroof begin to close, the hazard warning lights are activated and the seat belts are tensioned.
If the car has the full version of Audi pre sense plus, a fourth stage comes into play: a second round of partial braking – but this time at a moderate level – followed by maximum braking, during which the seat belts are fully pretensioned. This occurs shortly before impact, when a collision cannot be avoided any longer. Audi pre sense plus reduces the vehicle’s speed by up to 40 km/h (24.85 mph) before impact, which helps mitigate accident severity.
On some models, Audi pre sense front includes an additional function to protect against rear-end collisions at low speeds. At speeds under 30 km/h (18.64 mph) the function automatically brakes the car in critical situations, regardless of whether the vehicle in front is moving or stationary. Under 20 km/h (12.43 mph) this function can prevent an accident entirely under certain circumstances. In other cases, it reduces the vehicle’s speed at impact.
Audi pre sense rear utilizes the Audi side assist sensors and reduces the severity of a rear-end collision. Here, too, it closes the windows and sunroof, and pretensions the seat belts. If the car has optional front memory seats, they adjust to a more favorable position for passenger safety.
Piloted driving: the new dimension in driving pleasure
In future, Audi’s driver assistance systems will be even smarter and more capable than today’s solutions. The key concept in this respect is “piloted driving”. If desired by the driver, the new systems will be able to assume the driving task for a limited period of time, and so contribute to more comfort during the ride.
Piloted driving assists in traffic jams
Audi’s piloted driving in traffic jams will in future reduce the driver’s workload in stressful situations, such as in congested traffic. At speeds between zero and 60 km/h (37.28 mph), the system helps to steer the car within certain constraints. It also accelerates and brakes autonomously.
The new system is based on the functionality of Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, extended by adding the component of lateral guidance. Two radar sensors monitor everything up to 250 meters (820.21 ft) ahead of the vehicle, at a scan angle of around 35 degrees. A wide-angle video camera monitors the lane markings; it can also detect objects such as pedestrians, other vehicles, and guardrails. Eight ultrasonic sensors monitor the zones directly in front of the car and at its corners. A laser scanner is also used which provides highly precise data over a scanning angle of around 140 degrees up to 80 meters (262.47 ft) in front of the vehicle.
The Audi system for piloted driving in a traffic jam continuously analyzes the car’s speed and the speeds of nearby vehicles. If it detects a traffic jam from the data at speeds below 60 km/h (37.28 mph), the driver can activate the assistance function. By broadly scanning its surroundings, the system can also work in a de facto lane even in the absence of lane markings. The system behaves exactly like the Audi ACC Stop & Go function when moving off and braking; it also reacts cooperatively to cars moving into or out of the lane.
As an assistance function, piloted driving in a traffic jam enables the driver to devote their attention, within certain limits, to other activities while the system is operating. If the vehicle reaches the limits of the function, for instance the traffic jam disperses, the driver is prompted to take over control.
Piloted driving for parking maneuvers at the roadside and in garages
Parking often ends up being so tight that the driver must struggle to get out of the car afterward. Thanks to Audi’s piloted driving, the driver will be able to easily get out of the car in front of the garage or in a tight parking spot and instruct it to autonomously park itself via the remote key fob or smartphone.
With the help of its sensors, the car drives autonomously into the parking space or the garage under the driver’s supervision, stopping immediately if it detects an obstacle. Upon reaching its final position, it shuts off the engine, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors. Finally, it sends a confirmation to the driver.
Getting out of your own garage or a parking space is just as convenient and easy at the push of a button. As soon as the vehicle has completed the maneuver to get out of the garage, the driver and passengers can easily get in and drive off.
Piloted driving for parking maneuvers in parking garages
In another configuration Audi cars are able to get in and out of spaces autonomously in parking garages and underground garages. The driver activates the futuristic technology with the aid of a smartphone app. The parking facility’s central computer takes over part of the control function and guides the vehicle via WLAN to the nearest available parking space. The vehicle’s movements are recorded via external laser sensors and processed with additional movement data by the parking facility’s computer to pinpoint the vehicle. The parking facility’s computer also has a map of the parking garage and records parking space occupancy. This information is used to plan the route, thus ensuring that the vehicle can actually drive from the starting point to its destination. The information is transmitted to the vehicle. The vehicle also monitors its surroundings using twelve ultrasound sensors as it moves. In future, four video cameras will also be used. Audi is currently in the process of equipping a parking garage in Ingolstadt with the relevant technology. The system saves drivers time and makes parking less stressful.
Audi also underscores its prowess in the field of lighting technology. The brand already offers LED headlights in many model series. The new technologies that Audi is developing for the future boast a high degree of intelligence and are controlled entirely electronically.
Today’s lighting technologies
Audi has been the key driver of progress in lighting technology for many years – from LED daytime driving lights to the LED headlights available in many model series today. As pronounced design features, the headlights dominate the appearance of the Audi models. Due to their good road surface illumination, they also make a substantial contribution to active safety. Technologies such as Audi adaptive light already react to the vehicle’s surroundings and to other road users.
Audi adaptive light
Audi adaptive light for the xenon plus headlights is available in a number of different configurations. Its control unit governs the swiveling xenon plus modules to ensure that they always provide the ideal illumination for urban, country and highway applications. The driver can set the swivel characteristics via the Audi drive select driving dynamics system. The all-weather light – which is integrated into the main headlights – replaces the fog lights – with a higher range, wider verge illumination and lower backglare.
The variable headlight range control is an especially attractive component for the adaptive light. A video camera recognizes preceding and approaching vehicles by their lights. The control unit adapts the range of the vehicle’s own light accordingly – through a smooth range that always provides the maximum possible illumination.
A technological breakthrough from Audi is the networking of the headlight control unit with the MMI navigation plus. The navigation system reads the route data in advance and relays them to the light computer, so as to activate the longer-range highway lighting while still on the on-ramp to the highway, for example. The system automatically switches on the cornering lights before entering an intersection; in countries like the United Kingdom, it automatically switches the headlights from driving on the right to driving on the left.
LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights
Having made their first appearance in 2004 on an Audi A8 W12, white LED daytime running lights are now available for every model in various configurations. The Audi A1, for example, uses two light-emitting diodes per headlight. The LED’s light shines into a transparent polymer tube called a light guide to produce a homogenous contour. In the A7 Sportback, the daytime running lights of the optional LED headlights are also linear, but comprise 18 individual LEDs behind a polymer body.
Rear lights using LED technology are available either as standard or as an option for all Audi models. They produce a distinctive light pattern that in many cases also produces three-dimensional effects. The light-emitting diodes reach their full light intensity almost instantaneously – if the driver has to brake suddenly, the driver behind gains valuable fractions of a second.
Indicator light with dynamic display
When revamping its high-performance sports car, the R8, Audi recently brought the indicator light with dynamic display to series production. It sends clear signals to its surroundings – unlike today’s indicators.
The wipe-action indicator controls the LEDs sequentially in blocks in the turning direction, from the inside to the outside edge of the vehicle. Other road users benefit from the clearer indicator direction.
The function is provided by 30 LEDs arranged linearly, which are driven successively in seven segments at an interval of 150 milliseconds. The advantages: additional direction information, more intuitive indicator signal and more road safety.
Audi has consistently been setting milestones in the field of LED headlights. Since the market launch on the high-performance sports car, the Audi R8, the brand with the four rings has managed to consistently extend its lead – they are even available in the new A3 model series.
With a color temperature of 5,500 Kelvin, the light from LEDs resembles daylight and is therefore much less tiring for the eyes. The light-emitting diodes are virtually maintenance-free and designed for the life of the vehicle. They also score points in efficiency with their low power consumption. The low beams, for example, consume only around 40 watts per unit, five percent less than the already highly efficient xenon plus headlights.
The innovative technology of the LED headlights has led to a radically new design. On the Audi A8, for instance, the low beams comprise ten individual lens modules extending through the headlight in a distinctive arc below the chrome contour known as the wing, on account of its shape. Directly below this is another arc of 22 white and 22 yellow LEDs for the daytime running lights and the indicators. Their thick wall technology makes them appear to the onlooker as homogeneous, continuous strips of light.
The high-beam headlight is housed above the wing. Its light is generated by two powerful four-chip LEDs and a free-form reflection system; an assistance function switches between the low and main beams. Additional high-output LEDs generate the highway light and the cornering light. LEDs do not reach especially high temperatures. Red light-emitting diodes withstand about 120 and white ones 150 degrees Celsius – much less than halogen headlights, which generate temperatures of up to 400 degrees Celsius.
Audi’s designers therefore make sure that the LEDs transmit their heat in a targeted manner to the headlight glass by using fans, in order to keep it free of snow in winter and prevent misting over.
Lighting technologies – outlook
Audi is already developing the lighting technologies of tomorrow. Three central themes are emerging: the lighting on tomorrow’s Audi models will react even more intensively to environmental conditions, it will communicate in various ways with its surroundings and in this way will increase active safety still further. The light of the future will be controlled fully electronically and become an even more compelling proposition thanks to new dynamic functions.
Audi Matrix LED headlights
The term Audi Matrix LED headlights is used to describe the headlight technology of the future at Audi. During the last two years the brand has exhibited widely differing visual and technical versions of its technology on a series of show cars.
The “Matrix Beam” principle consists of dividing the LED main-beam headlight up into a large number of individual segments. The small individual diodes backed by lenses or reflectors always provide excellent illumination without needing a swiveling mechanism. They are simply switched on and off individually or dimmed to suit the situation.
The Audi Matrix LED headlights obtain the information they need from a camera, the navigation system or additional sensors. If the camera detects other vehicles, these innovative headlights fade out the appropriate area of the high-beam headlights, which contain various light-source sectors. The headlights can also illuminate the areas between several vehicles in complex situations. Based on navigation data, the high-beam headlight anticipates the bend and swivels to illuminate the road before the driver has even turned the wheel.
The “Matrix Beam” technology provides developers with fascinating opportunities in terms of the number of individual LEDs, their layout and the size and styling of the headlights. This functionality is also reflected in the special headlight styling. The illumination of the segments can also be seen from the outside.
The challenges that need to be mastered relate to the extremely low tolerances permitted during manufacture and assembly of the components, the methods used to energize the headlights and control them independently, along with the overall efficiency of the package, the uniformity of the conical light beam and the airflow path through the headlights. Audi is in a position to answer all these questions, so that the new technology will soon be introduced on production cars.
Laser tail light
The laser tail light is generated by a laser diode and provides drivers behind with a bright, clear signal. In good visibility the fan-shaped laser tail light that shines slightly downward is perceived as a red line on the road and prompts the driver behind to maintain sufficient distance – similar to a stop line.
In fog or spray, the laser beam strikes the water droplets in the air and makes them visible; the line is then seen as a triangle. The laser tail light looks like a large warning triangle.
OLED technology is yet another example of Audi’s pioneering work in the vehicle lighting area. The abbreviation stands for organic light emitting diode. Unlike the LEDs currently in use, which consist of semiconductor crystals, OLEDs are made from an organic material.
The material is spread extremely thinly – the coating is only a few thousandths of a millimeter thick – on an absolutely flat surface such as highly polished display glass. When an electrical voltage is applied, the molecules emit photons and the surface lights up. The light distribution is very homogeneous and very energy-efficient. They are ideally suited for use inside the vehicle or in rear lights.
External light design using OLED technology, which Audi is aiming to adopt, will be as intelligent as it is attractive. It can, for example, react to the approaching driver, follow his or her movements and highlight the main contours of the vehicle or the door handle. When the driver has entered the car, restrained OLED lighting will become active inside.
A scenario in the OLED technology area to which intensive thought has already been devoted is the “swarm”. The Audi engineers have transformed a vehicle’s rear end into a large, continuous light surface, with innumerable small points of light flickering like a swarm of fish.
The movements of the red dots follow the movements of the vehicle. When a right turn is made, they flow to the right; when the car is braked, they flow rapidly forwards; the faster the car goes, the faster they move. The following driver can always see right away what the driver of the car in front is doing.
AMOLED technology / digital rearview mirror
Another variant of OLED technology which Audi is involved in is called AMOLED (active matrix organic light emitting diode). The technology originates from the consumer electronics space. Audi uses the technology for instance in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro; a camera/monitor system replaces the optical rearview mirror in the cockpit of the electrically powered high-performance sports car. The system has already made its compelling premier in the Audi Sport prototypes at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The high-resolution AMOLED display is mounted on the headlining of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, which does not have a rear window. It offers a visible screen diagonal of 6.8 inches; each of its 600,000-plus pixels can be driven individually.
It offers ten times more contrast and consumes around 30 percent less energy than a corresponding LCD monitor; switching times are just a few milliseconds irrespective of the ambient temperature. Including its mechanism the display is just 7 millimeters (0.28 in) thick.
The small, lightweight camera sits on the back of the R18 e-tron quattro under the roof edge; its cover lens is heated to prevent it misting over or freezing. With its extremely high dynamic range of around 130 dB, the camera is roughly on a par with the contrast range of the human eye. It uses a lens with a diameter of just a few millimeters and covers a much larger field of vision than a conventional rearview mirror.
A control unit, which also provides the power supply, calculates the colors and contrast ratios of the data so that the image is always brilliant and detailed. In the dark the control unit prevents the headlights of other cars from dazzling the driver.[/tab]
[tab title=”Operating and Display”]Clear, intuitive display and operating concepts are one of Audi’s major strengths. The brand has further extended its lead in this area with the new A3 family. The compact models – the three-door Audi A3 and the five-door Audi A3 Sportback – showcase a slew of innovative infotainment solutions.
The MMI terminal in the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback
In addition to the voice-activated control system, the MMI terminal also controls the numerous infotainment functions in the Audi A3 and the Audi A3 Sportback. Its key component is a part which combines a touchpad with a rotary pushbutton. The top of the control wheel is a touch-sensitive field.
The MMI touch, which is a solution from the Audi full-size class, works with handwriting recognition. The driver writes letters or numbers he or she wishes to input for navigation or a phone call by fingertip on the pad; the system then provides acoustic feedback after each character. MMI touch will be of special interest to Asian customers, because it can process tens of thousands of characters.
Two rocker switches (“skip buttons”) in front of the touchwheel directly operate the most important areas of Telephone/Navigation and Media/Radio, while a Menu key and a Back key complete the key set. Four softkeys are used to navigate through the menus; a volume control knob, which can be used to skip tracks, complements the MMI user terminal. The menus also have a new layout.
The MMI monitor
Images are displayed on a 7-inch screen in the new Audi A3. Thanks to its very high contrast and resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, it delivers brilliant, pin-sharp 3-D graphics; highly efficient LEDs supply its backlighting.
The monitor extends electrically from the instrument panel and is angled slightly towards the driver. It is a mere eleven millimeters (0.43 in) thick, similar to a smartphone. A special lamination process is used to bond its layer of glass directly with the surface of the TFT screen – leaving no air between the two components, which enhances visual output and ensures the display is very easy to read even in bright sunlight. The painted housing is produced from ultra-lightweight magnesium, which saves about 50 grams (0.11 lb) in weight. High-gloss and chrome highlights accentuate its elegance.
Driver safety at the center of HMI development at Audi
With the global introduction of the MMI touch operating concept in the current generation of the Audi A8 and Audi A6, the brand with the four rings has set a milestone in automotive HMI (Human-Machine Interface) development. The unique opportunity to enter complex data using the intuitive process of writing with a finger has not only gone down extremely well with our customers by being so easy to use but improves active safety.
Thanks to the functional interaction of handwriting recognition and acoustic output of the letters and figures recognized, the system is much more fun to use, the process is faster and the driver’s eyes can remain firmly on the road. In-house driving simulator tests demonstrated an approximately 50 percent improvement in driving quality while performing an operation.
The touchwheel in the new Audi A3 enables us to offer the advantages of this technology for the first time in the compact class as well. But there are also other improvements: the reduction in the number of buttons and the consistent design of what is known as a “haptic landscape” provide the driver with clear orientation on the center console. The two projecting rocker switches provide access to the key functions – such as radio, media, telephone and navigation – and can be found from the central touchwheel without having to glance at them. The same applies to the volume control knob with its integrated joystick as a skip function. Without having to move your hands around, you can jump to the next track or radio station and adjust the volume as required.
For anyone that prefers to interact via voice, a powerful voice control system is naturally also available. You can quickly get to your destination with simple commands or voice entry by stating the city, road and house number in a single utterance. Supplemented by server-based voice recognition services as part of Audi connect, you can also look for Google points of interest using voice commands or even dictate and send (SMS) text messages.
Even though the user interfaces of certain smartphones are designed very intuitively, they nonetheless demand the user’s undivided attention and are not suitable for usage while driving. A recent driving simulator comparison of smartphone and Audi MMI operation (based on the same tasks) reveals an impairment of driving-related variables (average number of times the lane markings were crossed) of up to 800 percent when using the mobile device.
Control and display concepts – outlook
Uninterrupted connectivity paired with safe and low-stress driving is possible only with new approaches to display and operation. Audi has therefore stepped up the pace of its development in this area.
Audi virtual cockpit
Audi virtual cockpit is the instrument cluster of the future. The new technology enables driving, environmental and infotainment information to be tailored optimally to each situation. The driver can decide for him- or herself which of the presentation formats is most appropriate.
The digital display offers virtually unlimited flexibility when arranging and displaying contents. Depending on the driver’s requirements, the focus may be, for instance, on optimum system operation, the best possible route navigation, the explanatory display of active assistance systems or, with a sporty driving style for instance, on the legibility of the instruments.
The Audi virtual cockpit display, whose size and outline are geared to the design of the current instrument cluster, is based on TFT technology. Its high screen resolution provides all content in pin-sharp, brilliant, high-contrast images. High-quality animation, mirror and lighting effects round off the state-of-the-art look. A high-speed graphics processor from Nvidia’s Tegra series works away in the background.
Audi’s underlying operating logic is also retained in the new technology: all the displays and menus are structured in a strictly logical, user-friendly manner. Audi intends to tailor the skin – the digital instrument’s graphical user interface – to the character of its future models; it will become dynamic in the case of a sports car, while it will come across as somewhat more serene with a large sedan. Over the years Audi customers will always have access to new designs and functions.
The 3-D displays
The displays in Audi’s series-production models already boast outstanding brilliant images. Audi will be presenting the next stage at the CES – displays with 3-D technology. A field of small optical lenses on the display breaks the image up into different directions – for the left and the right eye. This creates an impression of three dimensions for the viewer without the need for any 3-D glasses.
Audi will be showcasing the 3-D displays in two different versions. The first version, which features 2-View technology, includes a small camera that follows the viewer’s eye movements. Based on data from the camera, software calculates the image output so that the viewer always sees a perfect 3-D image on the 11.6-inch display.
The second display – also with an 11.6-inch screen diagonal – utilizes Multi-View technology. This permits 3-D viewing from various angles; in other words it can be used simultaneously by several people. The image content is output in 28 different views following a sophisticated computing process.
The modular infotainment platform
The new A3 and the new A3 Sportback are the first Audi models to have the new modular infotainment platform on board. Audi is using this radically new architecture to solve a challenge that is becoming increasingly urgent – innovations in consumer electronics and rapid gains in computing power are being introduced at speeds that are much faster than the product cycles of automotive manufacturers.
The central computer in the modular infotainment platform, which is housed in the glove box of the A3, comprises two main units in a single housing – the Radio Car Control Unit and the MMX (Multi-Media eXtension) board. Along with its working and flash memories, the plug-in module integrates the latest Tegra processor from Nvidia, which can handle all online, media, voice control, navigation and telephone functions. The new architecture makes it easy to update the hardware; the fact that the MMX board can be swapped out ensures the system is always up to date.
The new Audi A3 and the Audi A3 Sportback feature the Tegra 2 series T 20 processor from market leader Nvidia – a dual-core processor with 1.2 GHz clock frequency and high-speed graphics card. It accelerates playback of many audio and video formats such as mp3 audio and mpeg4 video, which now dominate in the world of mobile entertainment.
The T 20 processor works together with a graphics program from the specialist Rightware; with this combination, Audi is the first carmaker with the capability of displaying three-dimensional graphics in the MMI. The new A3 is stored in the system as a data model, allowing the driver and passengers to explore it virtually.
And the next generation of processors is already in the starting blocks: the Tegra 30, which features quad-core technology, runs at a clock frequency of up to 1.4 GHz. As in the T 20, its power requirements are minimal – which fits in perfectly with Audi’s efficiency strategy.
Nvidia plans to regularly release ever more powerful chips in the years to come, and Audi will fit them in its cars as soon as the new chips are available.
The modular infotainment platform architecture signals a transition into a new era, paving the way for groundbreaking speed and flexibility. Audi is driving forward the integration of components on a broad front. A multichip module will be the next development step in the modular infotainment platform.
3-D sound – the next dimension in music playback
Audi has long since consistently set the benchmark for in-car sound systems. 2005 saw the launch of high-end sound with the Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system in the Audi A8. The launch of the new A3 saw the inspirational Bang & Olufsen premium sound system enter the compact class for the very first time, offering a superb combination of resolution, dynamism and bass performance familiar from full-size and mid-range categories.
With the addition of 3-D music reproduction, Audi is now planning another major step forward. The brand will be showcasing for the first time in-car 3-D sound at the CES. Visitors will be able to experience first-hand this innovation in an Audi Q7 prototype, dubbed the “Audi Q7 sound concept”, and as part of a sound experience on the Audi booth. With stereo and 5.1 surround sound the music is reproduced in a single plane and thus ignores the 3-D information included in the music recordings. In the case of concerts the sound waves are reflected on the floor and ceiling and to a certain extent are specifically reproduced through loudspeakers above the stage. The 3-D acoustic dimension of the music recording is reproduced more naturally and more inspirationally than ever through 3-D sound. This produces an airiness and openness of the acoustics which corresponds to human hearing.
The new technology that is currently being rolled out in movie theaters and living rooms provides a third dimension – height – in addition to the familiar 5.1 surround sound. Audi has developed the technology together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Erlangen, Germany, for use in the car interior. The current Advanced Sound System in the Audi Q7 provided the basis.
The “Audi Q7 sound concept” prototype, however, features 23 loudspeakers with an amplifier output of over 1,400 watts. In particular, four special loudspeakers have been integrated for the 3-D sound, including two tweeters located in the top section of the roof pillars. A sophisticated algorithm has been used to extract information on the third dimension from conventional stereo or 5.1 recordings, which is then prepared for the height loudspeakers.
3-D sound is set to make its debut in a new Audi model as early as next year.
The Audi Phone Box
As an option, Audi can deliver the new A3 and the new A3 Sportback with the Audi Phone Box, which conveniently links cell phones to the vehicle. Its key component is a universal planar antenna, which is integrated in the center armrest’s phone storage tray. The telephone utilizes near-field coupling to communicate with the flat planar antenna, which routes signals via an amplifier to the vehicle antenna. The cell phone is powered via a USB socket in the Audi Phone Box. For the medium term, Audi is working on a solution for contactless charging of cell phones.[/tab]