Audi introduced its Aicon (Artificial Intelligence Concept) in Frankfurt , showcasing its rosy-day, futuristic autonomous driving technology at 2017 International Motor Show. We are not talking about the latest stuff that you can jam into sensors on current vehicles. Audi Aicon envisions what cars can be in distant future when all vehicles on road are autonomous and there is no such thing as human error. There must be a lot to show off, because Aicon is absolutely massive. At almost 18 feet long, it is a foot longer than Audi A8 sedan. It is also almost 7 feet in width, wider than a Chevrolet Suburban. A study in high design, the car’s curved glass creates a naturally illuminated fishbowl of a passenger compartment, highlighted by lack of center roof pillars and glass darkens if you want it to. Despite its extroverted sculpturing and creases, most distinctive feature of the Aicon is set of 26 inch wheels upon which it rides, pushed out as far as possible to corners of the car. It is less of an automobile and more of a Danish child’s toy. In future, the need for headlamps will be eliminated, as radar will detect any pedestrians or obstacles and scoot Aicon out of their way. In their place, a digital display can be customized to put on a show for onlookers, or to show an angry face (yes, Disney “Cars”-style) or display “eyes” that follow people around (yes, Disney Haunted Mansion style). Should it be dark when you exit vehicle, a mini drone will follow you with a flashlight guiding your path.
As futuristic as Aicon looks, it is within the interior where things truly get revolutionary. Step inside the car via suicide doors and settle in to what back in olden times was known as driver’s seat. After all, you are not driving the Aicon, Aicon is. There is no steering wheel, no dashboard and no pedals. Rather, there is a large shelf and a wrap-around display screen below windshield. As you enter, your key will tell the car to set interior lighting, audio system and climate control to your chosen settings. The Aicon accommodates 4 passengers. 2 people sit up front and 2 in the rear on a bench seat. Designed like lounge chairs, front seats can slide all the way to the rear if it is just two of you, while a swivel function spins the seat around so that you can have a nice chat between 4 of you. Ottomans allow you to put your feet up so that all on board can take a snooze. Should you want to take a break from Ska music, you needn’t bother with touching a screen or even speaking a command. Instead, eye-tracking sensors will take you to the control that you want and change it, in proverbial blink of an eye. This approach does seem somewhat discriminatory against the blind. Should you want to be a little more productive during your commute, you can surf the web or video conference, thanks to head-up display that projects images onto the windshield. Of course, this assumes that web and video conferencing will still be things people do.
Of course, the most important of Aicon’s features is its ability to transport its passengers without human input. In fact, Audi suggests multiple times that passengers can nap while navigation system and vehicle sensors do all the work in getting you to your destination. Aicon is built on assumption that all future cars will be autonomous, so the projected average speed of travel will be about 80 mph. Of course, because autonomous cars don’t get into collisions, there are no seat belts. Feel free to move about the cabin and allow your children to crawl around as desired, too, just like people did back in the 60′. Propulsion truly lives up the Quattro all wheel drive promise. Each of the Aicon’s oversized wheels is driven by its own electric motor, powered by a solid body battery housed below vehicle floor. Together, the 4 motors make a projected total of 349 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque and the Aicon will travel nearly 500 miles on a single charge. Speaking of charging, when using an 800 volt charger, Aicon’s battery achieves an 80 % charge in about 30 minutes. The Aicon is also theoretically prepared for wireless charging, too.