Why the US-market Audi A8 won’t get Level 3 autonomy

TechDay piloted driving

The Audi A8 is the first-ever production automobile to ever get true Level 3 autonomous driving capability. It’s an impressive feat that has just recently been recognized by Autocar, winning their “Game Changer” award. However, despite how impressive the A8’s self-driving tech is, it won’t be available to the US market, at least not yet.

It’s called Traffic Jam Pilot and it allows the Audi A8 to drive itself at speeds up to 37 mph. That means it can drive, stop, steer and change lanes on its own under that speed, which will make driving in traffic far easier. It’s a completely hands-off, eyes-off system under its certain conditions. But due to legal and infrastructural issues, US-bound Audi A8s will lack that awesome in-traffic autopilot.

Audi has been clear from the beginning that it would roll out this new technology on a market-to-market basis. That’s because the technology is advancing faster than governments’ regulations, so Audi can only implement the tech in certain markets where it’s allowed. So until US regulations catch up, all Audi A8 models sold west of the Atlantic will only have Level 2 autonomy.

Thankfully, all Audi A8 models sold in the US will still get the advanced lidar sensors and zFAS brain of processors. So its Level 2 autonomy will likely work better than the rest of the industry’s. The BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class also offer Level 2 tech but the Audi A8’s hardware is more advanced and capable of much more.

One factor that’s slowing Congress from creating new regulations to allow autonomous cars is public perception. Many customers are weary of self-driving technology and understandably so. We’ve recently seen many autonomous Teslas crash and even kill people while supposedly using its Level 2 “Autopilot” system. So the public is understandably apprehensive of such technologies and that same apprehension is likely slowing Congress as well.

Hopefully, the US does something about this soon and changes some laws and regulations around to allow for this sort of tech to be sold here.