Self-driving Audi A8 to debut at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will be displaying quite a lot of new tech when it launches next month in Las Vegas, Nevada. Among the many companies in attendance to show off their latest tech will be Audi with a self-driving concept of its flagship A8 sedan.

Audi A8 L Magnolia
Audi A8 L Magnolia

Audi has been teasing us with quite a lot of technology, lately, that hits at what the next-gen A8 could be. In fact, Audi was supposed to be launching the new A8 in 2016, but pushed it back to 2017 to give it new technology that could compete with the big dogs currently coming out, like the new BMW 7 Series. So we’re not sure whether or not this concept will be a version of the current car or a concept of the upcoming one. What we do know is that it will have full autonomous capabilities.

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Audi claimed, back at the previous CES in January, that the A8 would have fully autonomous driving at up to 37 mph. That may not sound like a lot, especially considering Tesla’s new Autopilot system works at highway speeds, but Audi’s autonomous functions are more extensive than anyone else’s. It will be fully and completely autonomous at that speed and can even find, and pull into, parking spots. That’s impressive. Actually, it’s more impressive that what Tesla’s Autopilot can do, because slow speed and urban autonomous driving is actually more difficult to create than highway driving. Highway driving is very predictable and usually exactly the same. But low speed driving has to deal with traffic lights and stop signs, things Tesla’s Autopilot cannot do.

2017 Audi A8 render
2017 Audi A8 render

“We will start with 60 km/h,” said former Audi R&D Chief back in January. The next step will be something more. The next step will be under highway conditions. Full autonomous driving, that will take some time. You need more sensor clusters and there are some legal points to consider.” So while Audi’s system is only good for 37 mph, that’s just for now and it will get better and safer as technology improves.

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However, this years concept at CES is said to have fully autonomous driving at highway speeds. Audi also claimed it “will present the latest technologies, products and megatrends in the areas of electrification, digitalization and piloted driving. With a concept car and numerous technology exhibits, Audi is offering an outlook on the automotive future, which will be influenced more than ever by the electronics field.”

Sounds like it will be an exciting month for Audi, as it will also be debuting hydrogen tech at the Detroit Auto Show in the same month.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.