The self-driving car market, which used to a niche one, is slowly going mainstream. Industry veterans are taking on the autonomous vehicle challenge, and the German automaker Audi is not getting left behind.
The company recently announced the production of an all-electric SUV, and now it's gearing up to release the A8, which was unveiled yesterday at the Audi Summit in Barcelona. Not only is the vehicle at the top of Audi's luxury sedan lineup, but the A8 will also come with Level 3 autonomy. That's right, it's going to be capable of driving itself.
The A8 comes with a ton of impressive features, but let's focus on Audi's pilot-driving software. There's the "traffic jam pilot" which is activated by pressing the artificial intelligence (AI) button found on the center console for autonomous driving in slow-moving traffic, according to an Audi press release. To do this, the A8's central driver assistance controller combines sensor data from a front camera, ultrasonic sensors, radar, and — a first in a production car — LIDAR.
The A8 also introduces the Audi AI remote parking pilot and garage pilot. The driver can remotely monitor the car as it parks itself using their smartphone with the new myAudi app, where they can watch a live display from the A8's 360° cameras.
The A8 is a "mild hybrid," and gas and diesel models will be available, both equipped with tech to lower fuel consumption. This may make it more attractive to customers who dread having to charge electric cars.
However, customers will have to be willing to pay significantly more for these features, as the A8 is set to start at a $103,243 (90,600 EUR), compared to Tesla's Model 3, which is going for $35,000. We will soon see if drivers accept the expense, as the A8 is set to hit German roads late this fall and the U.S. by mid-2018.