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Frankfurt show: Audi previews future with Aicon

Lonely: With level five autonomy, Audi’s Aicon concept features no steering wheel or pedals for driver input, instead occupants are able to browse the internet while on the way to their destination.

Audi envisions autonomous Aicon electric vehicle without steering wheel, pedals

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Audi logo12 Sep 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

AUDI’S level five fully autonomous future has been revealed with the unveiling of the Aicon concept car at this week’s Frankfurt motor show, which ditches the conventional steering wheel and pedals for a completely self-driving experience.

Powered by four electric motors positioned where the front and rear axles would traditionally be, the Aicon features a combined output of 260kW and 550Nm with a driving range of between 700 and 800km.

With wireless charging capabilities and a high-voltage 800 volt system, Audi claims the Aicon can recharge from zero to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes, while its on-board artificial intelligence (AI) system can also drive itself to a charging station.

With each motor driving an individual wheel, the Aicon sports an electronically controlled quattro all-wheel-drive system with all-wheel steering, as well as a pneumatic spring and damper suspension set-up with electric actuators to counteract body roll and maximise comfort.

Cruising on 26-inch wheels while measuring 5444mm long, 2100mm wide, 1506mm high with a 3470mm wheelbase, the Aicon sizes up larger than the new long-wheelbase A8 luxury limo.

With a futuristic design emphasising the large, open glasshouse, the Aicon eschews traditional lighting technology in favour of a new LED-lit aesthetic.

Positioned around the large hexagonal Singleframe front grille – a design cue which will feature on future Audi electric vehicles (EVs) – are large light fields with more than 600 pixels arranged to illuminate parts of the road and to give outsiders a visual cue to the status of the Aicon.

The rear lighting set-up will also make use of the same technology.

According to Audi, “the customisation is boundless” and “can be expanded to resemble wide pupils or squinted for an aggressive look”.

Paired to the new LED lighting system, the Aicon will also use a laser and radar sensor system to spot oncoming obstacles in complete darkness.

Inside, the Aicon features a 2+2 seating arrangement, with a bench rear seat and two customisable individual pews.

Installed on a movable platform, the individual seats can slide 500mm back and forth, while also being able to swivel up to 15 degrees to make ingress/egress easier or turned inward for easier communication with other occupants.

The headrests are also able to fold completely back to form an armrest with passengers turned to face the rear seats.

Without the need for a steering wheel or pedals, the Aicon’s cabin wraps around occupants with prominent shelf space, a central display and auxiliary controls integrated into the interior.

Large glass surfaces, a transparent roof and low waist line ensure maximum visibility and lighting while inside, inputs can be issued to the Aicon via voice commands, eye tracking or haptic-feedback touch controls.

The Aicon is also tapped into the internet, allowing video calls, surfing the web and browsing social media while on the move.

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