Audi has claimed over and over again that its upcoming A8 sedan will be the most technologically advanced car the brand has ever made. One of the reasons for this bold claim is that Audi is pumping a lot of autonomous technology into the next-gen A8. Now we’re hearing that the Audi A8 could be the first of its segment to get Level 3 autonomy.
What is Level 3 autonomy, you ask? It’s considered to be “conditional automation”, where the driver can pass off the driving to the car only under certain conditions. Those conditions are if the car is moving at speeds under 37 mph and there’s a physical barrier between both sides of traffic. If that’s the case, then the driver can let the car just do its thing while they check emails or make phone calls or whatever their mood calls for. However, they must be ready to retake control of the car because the A8 will pass it back off to the driver if it notices something it can’t handle.
Currently, the Audi A8’s two biggest competitors, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series, only have Level 2 autonomy. This means that they can drive themselves for brief moments on the highway, basically. That’s about all they can do and, while impressive, will be far behind the A8 if Audi’s claims are true.
According to Audi CEO Rupert Stadler, the only thing preventing full Level 4 or 5 autonomy is government regulation. We doubt that, to be honest, because it’s hard to believe that any car on the road could possibly be smart enough to deal with any and all situations just yet. However, government regulations do, indeed, hinder the progress of self-driving cars. Legislation around the world is just not ready to handle autonomous cars and so it’s hindering further progress than Level 3 autonomy. Though, the legal landscape may change by the time the Audi A8 hits the market, so we’ll see where that goes.