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Audi introduced its new 2019 A8 luxury sedan and highlighted its semi-autonomous driving features, according to Engadget.
With the new model’s advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS), owners will be able to let the car control itself in stop-and-go highway traffic, freeing them from the need to monitor the car for the most part.
Audi’s AI Traffic Jam Pilot, as the system is called, will operate on controlled-access highways at speeds of up to about 37 mph, and when it’s engaged, the car will handle accelerating, braking, and steering. (There’s a different system for higher speeds, but it requires drivers to stay more involved.)
Further, it differs from many other systems like Tesla’s AutoPilot in that it won’t require the driver’s continual attention, allowing complete disengagement from controlling the car. Semi-autonomous functionality will be limited based on local laws and regulations.
As the driver is freed from the responsibility of paying attention to the road, the automotive experience will start to transform:
- Roads should start getting safer. Using an ADAS means that a car can use a suite of sensors that can track other vehicles and quickly detect their movements, sometimes faster than a driver would be able to. A Tesla driving using AutoPilot avoided colliding with vehicles ahead after an accident that took place beyond the driver’s vision, for example. Additionally, vehicles driving with semi-autonomous systems will follow the laws of the road, meaning they won’t commit dangerous but common violations like exceeding the speed limit, which accounted for 27% of traffic fatalities in the US in 2015, the last year for which data is available.
- Drivers will be free to take their eyes off the road and start consuming media. If a driver doesn’t need to carefully monitor the road and traffic around the car, he or she can turn away from the road and make use of a car’s built-in infotainment system to look at news, select music, or even watch streaming video. The Audi A8 features a large display that can play video, while Teslas sport a 17-inch touch screen to play back music and video content. As drivers slowly transform into passengers, the car will continue to emerge as a new platform for media consumption and engagement.
The self-driving car is no longer a futuristic fantasy. Consumers can already buy vehicles that, within a few years time, will get software updates enabling them to hit the road without the need for a driver.
This autonomous revolution will upend the automotive sector and disrupt huge swaths of the economy, while radically improving energy efficiency and changing the way people approach transport around the world.
Automakers and tech companies are racing to develop the technology that will power self-driving cars in the coming years. That tech is advancing, but leaves observers with a bigger question: will consumers trust driverless car tech, and will they want to use autonomous cars?
- Sizes the current and future self-driving car market, forecasting shipments and projecting installed base.
- Explains the current state of technology, regulation, and consumer perception.
- Analyzes how the development of autonomous cars will impact employment and the economy.
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