We already know the next-gen Audi A8 is going to be a technological powerhouse. The 2018 A8 will debut July 11, at the Audi Summit in Barcelona, and it will show off a massive suite of new technology. While the star of the new Audi A8’s tech is usually its supposed Level 3 autonomous driving, it has some other interesting tech as well. Most notably, the advanced Active Suspension that can see the road ahead and ready itself, to allow for more ride comfort, sportier handling and even less brake dive.
Admittedly, this isn’t the first system to utilize front-facing cameras to look at the road surface ahead. Mercedes-Benz has had such a feature for a few years now that works really well, it’s called Magic Wizard Road Floaty Control, or something like that. However, Audi’s system does differ greatly from Mercedes’ and it all starts from its power supply.
All Audi A8s will be MHEVs (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle). Now, that doesn’t make them hybrids and they don’t plug into anything. What it means is that they all utilize a 48-volt electrical system as their main source of power and have a Belt Alternator Starter that acts as a sort of electric motor and can actually power the car without using the engine. But the important bit for the suspension is the 48-volt system. Much like how the Audi SQ7 has a 48-volt electrical sub-system to power its active anti-roll bars, the Audi A8 uses it as a primary system but it can also power the Active Suspension.
The all-new active suspension on the Audi A8 is a fully active, electromechanical suspension system, which drives each wheel individually and adapts to the upcoming road conditions. Each wheel has an electric motor that is powered by the 48-volt main electrical system. Additional components include gears, a rotary tube together with internal titanium torsion bar and a lever which exerts up to 1,100 Nm (811.3 lb-ft) on the suspension, via a coupling rod.
There is a camera that is mounted to the front of the car that can see any road imperfection ahead and automatically adjust the suspension accordingly. But thanks to the way in which the new suspension works and how quickly it can respond, thanks to its 48-volt main system, it almost completely eliminates bumps. Even before the car reaches a bump in the road, the preview function developed by Audi transmits the right amount of travel to the actuators and actively controls the suspension. This complex process takes just a few milliseconds, with the camera generating information about the road surface condition 18 times a second. The electronic chassis platform (ECP) processes the road surface information and precisely controls all suspension components almost in real time. In conjunction with the air suspension fine-tuned for the A8, the innovative suspension concept delivers an entirely new driving experience in this way. Irrespective of the high level of comfort, the new luxury sedan sits close to the road even with a dynamic driving style.
This also works for sporty handling and flat cornering. Pitch the Audi A8 into a bend and it will load up one side and keep the body nice and flat. It can also use its rear-wheel steer system to really carve out corners and make the big A8 feel smaller than it is.
With all of these systems, we have high hopes for the upcoming Audi A8. It will not only be a techno-fest luxury sedan but it should also have the mechanical bits to drive like one. We’ll see for sure later this year.