Today marks the beginning of the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show. At the moment, the Chinese auto market is the fastest growing in the world and it’s also one of the most important. In China, with its high population and dense urban cities, the idea of an advanced and autonomous city car is very intriguing. Which is why the Audi AI:ME made its official debut in Shanghai.
We recently saw the Audi AI:ME Concept in a brief teaser from the brand but now it’s official here. The idea for the AI:ME is to offer and advanced autonomous car for the megacities of the future. That might not sound exciting for car enthusiasts but it’s an important concept for cities like Shanghai.
If you’re thinking that the Audi AI:ME looks a lot like the Audi Aicon concept from awhile back, you’d be right and it’s no accident. Which is why both cars flank each other on the stage in Shanghai. The design language of the AI:ME was intentionally modeled after the Aicon and it’s apparent. However, the design brief for the AI:ME was quite a bit different.
The exterior dimensions of the AI:ME are designed to be as small as possible, so as to make fitting into tight urban traffic that much easier. So its length and width are about the same as a current compact car. However, interior space was designed to offer as much passenger room as possible, so its wheelbase is stretched out as far as it can go. This allows for maximum interior space for passengers while making it as small as possible on the outside.
Of course, the entire car is surrounded by the idea of autonomous driving. This isn’t supposed to be a fun little hatchback, rather one that drives itself. So it’s supposed to have Level 4 Autonomy, which would allow the occupants to completely forgo the act of driving and just hang out inside the car. However, Level 4 Autonomy isn’t full, 100-percent autonomy. So it can drive itself around completely on its own, just within certain parameters and areas, such as marked highways and inner cities. While its Aicon sibling will be fully Level 5 Autonomous, meaning it can drive anywhere, at any time, entirely on its own.
Inside the Audi AI:ME, occupants will enjoy a very luxurious and, more importantly, very relaxing environment. Audi says it’s supposed to be a “third living space”, in addition to your actual home and place of work. Which is the reason why it looks like a bit of a blob, as interior space and design are above all else.
To become that “third living space” the Audi AI:ME has some unique interior features, such as magnets that hold magnetic cups and plates in place while the car is moving. So occupants can enjoy a nice espresso and a croissant, or even an entire meal, while being comfortably at home.
Because the occupants will rarely be driving the AI:ME, certain aspects of the car will change from what we currently know. For instance, headlights and taillights will be more of part-time tools, as passengers will rarely need the bright illumination of them. While it will have headlights and taillights, and they will be used traditionally when needed, they will also take on a new role. Being made from Matrix LEDs, the lights can create fluid, moving graphics to communicate with other vehicles or even pedestrians.
The AI:ME can also interpret lights and symbols and respond accordingly. For example, if it recognizes a vehicle ahead of it stopped and using its hazard lights, the AI:ME can recognize the warning and display a warning to all other vehicles surrounding it.
Under the skin, the AI:ME has a 65 kWh battery back and about 170 hp. It’s going to be slow but that’s okay because it’s never going to need to be quick. Instead, it just needs to have a long range and be comfortable and luxurious.
It’s an interesting concept, the Audi AI:ME. While it isn’t the most exciting concept car for enthusiasts, it’s important for the market it’s in. This is being designed with the Chinese market in mind and, in that market, such a car would be a very hot commodity. Audi is looking toward the future and the AI:ME could be the future of mobility in China.