Cars nowadays are almost just rolling computers. There are sensors and monitors and processors computing billions of floating point operations per second (FLOPS). All of this computing is used for everything from the navigation screen to adaptive suspension and automated steering. This makes the need for more powerful processors a higher priority than ever for automakers. Audi has recently announced that the upcoming A8 will have a teraFLOP of computing power inside of it.
For those who don’t know much about this sort of thing, a teraFLOP is one trillion floating point operations per second. For a hint as to why the Audi A8 will need this much computing power, ask Ricky Hudi, Head of Audi’s Electronics Department, “If you just look to the camera in the [all-new 2017] B9 A4, it’s a 3D camera that does everything from recognizing traffic signs to active cruise control with its Mobile Eye. It has 245 gigaFLOPS of computing power.” According to Hudi, that’s the equivalent of what supercomputers had just 15 years ago. This teraFLOP of power will be used to literally everything inside of the highly technologically advanced Audi A8, including the autonomous driving functions, 3D cameras and adaptive air suspension.
The demand for increased technology, Audi has had to increase its spending budget on in its Electronics Department significantly. Audi spends four times as much on its Electronics Department than it did five years ago. According to Hudi, “It is a significant double-digit percentage of Audi’s total research and development spend today,”. That’s staggering, that a significant double-digit percentage of Audi’s R&D budget is just in its electronics. However, it’s what the people want, so it’s what Audi gives them. With all of this computerizing and automatizing, it’s a wonder how much is left for the driver. It’s staggering and incredibly impressive, what Audi is able to to technologically, but it is worrisome.