Audi recently held the 2016 Audi Tech Day, in Munich. Some journalists caught up with Audi there and were able to get some info about the upcoming Audi A8, as well as what the people at Audi thought of some of the competition.
According to Niko Spachtholz, head of Audi connected development electronics, the Audi A8 will be the most technologically-advanced car in the world when it debuts. Boasting OLED and AMOLED touch-sensitive screens with haptic feedback, the Audi A8 will have an advanced and intuitive user-interface. “It is going to be the most innovative car on the market when it comes out. Already we have got a twist to it (in reference to the haptic feedback). These touch-sensitive screens, in Spachtholz’s opinion, will be better than any other interface on the market.
Many modern automotive companies have introduced new, innovative user-interfaces for their new technologies. BMW recently made a big splash with its Gesture Control system, which allows front passengers to control certain commands by simply waiving their hand in specific motions. Spachtholz seems to feel that sort of thing is just gimmicky and doesn’t actually make the user experience easier. “With the volume control, you’re doing that with your finger centimetres from the volume knob,” to which he continued with “You can use the steering wheel, for us it (Gesture Control) wasn’t the killer use case. The bigger use for the customer will be haptic feedback.”
Audi is also developing a sort of artificial intelligence, called PIA (Personal Intelligent Assistant). The system learns about the driver, customizing functions, displays and controls based on learned driver preferences. It can input navigation destinations at certain times automatically, based on your schedule. For instance, if you turn your navigation on every morning for work, it will do it automatically for you.
The new dashboard of the A8 will also be “starkly reduced” and will feature only three different screens. One screen already exists, in the Virtual Cockpit. The A8 will get a new and upgraded version of that instrument panel. The two other screens make up the virtual dashboard and replace the typical navigation screen and the HVAC controls. The upper screen acts as the typical navigation and infotainment screen while the bottom screen replaces radio and aircon controls. Both of the latter screens will be touch-sensitive and feature haptic feedback, which provides much easier use.
Andreas Lamprecht, Audi electronics engineer, claims that haptic feedback makes the touchscreen far superior to others on the market. With both an audible click and vibration, user’s can be assured they’ve pressed the right button. “First, the user avoids inadvertent operation such as that which might occur as they are travelling down a bumpy road and trying to use a function.” said Lamprecht. “Second, you can feel in your fingertip if the button has worked, so there’s no need to repeatedly prod the screen, so it is less distracting.”
According to Lamprecht, Audi moved on from the traditional rotary MMI controller to touchscreen because the latter is what we use everyday. As smart phones become more engrained in our lives, touchscreens become more natural and normal to use. “The reason is that everyone has smart phones and is familiar with touchscreens, and we want to react to that,”
Combine all of that new tech with the Audi A8’s already claimed level 3 autonomous technology and it’s easy to see how the upcoming A8 can be the more high-tech car on the market.