Audi presents new technologies at the CES
Audi will be presenting its new electrics/electronics technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The show booth will be devoted to networking the car with its environment – with a particular focus on future piloted driving and mobile communications. Other show highlights include sound and lighting technologies.
Audi at the CES 2013
Ingolstadt/Las Vegas – “Electronics trends over the next decade” will be the banner for Audi’s presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which will be held in Las Vegas from January 8 to 11, 2013. At the world’s most important electronics trade show, the brand is presenting its technologies of today and its solutions for tomorrow. The spotlight will be on networking the car with its environment – with a particular focus on future piloted driving and mobile communications.
Audi will be showcasing a wide range of assistance systems already on offer that make driving more comfortable and safer. These assistance systems are closely integrated, providing them with a high degree of intelligence and outstanding capabilities. Tomorrow’s systems will be even smarter – they will reduce the driver’s workload should the driver so wish.
Piloted driving will be technical feasible before the decade is out – Audi will be showcasing what being caught up in a traffic jam will entail in future. In congested traffic at speeds up to 60 km/h (37.28 mph), Audi’s piloted driving helps the driver to steer the car within certain limits. It also accelerates and brakes the vehicle autonomously. In future, piloted driving will also be able to maneuver the vehicle autonomously into and out of parking spaces – such as in tight roadside parking spaces, in garages, or even in parking garages.
“At Audi you’d be hard pushed to find an innovation that isn’t related to electronics nowadays,” explains Ricky Hudi, Head of Electrics/Electronics Development. “These enable us to implement full networking. A defining feature of the last decade was that we integrated all the functions in the car. This decade will see us network the car seamlessly with the environment, under the Audi connect banner – with the driver, the Internet, the infrastructure, and with other vehicles.”
Audi connect services and technologies bring the Internet into the car and the car onto the Internet. For customers the new technology means greater comfort and greater driving pleasure. The new wireless communication standard Long Term Evolution (LTE) will soon support communications with the World Wide Web, opening up the possibility of high-speed transmission of large amounts of data.
Audi connect provides the driver with tailor-made services, ranging from navigation with Google Earth images and Google Maps Street View, through Audi online traffic information and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. In the new Audi A3 and in the Audi A3 Sportback the driver can have e-mails read aloud and dictate (SMS) text messages. Audi intends to expand this range of services further.
Audi is working flat out on new operating and display concepts – concepts like the freely programmable instrument cluster. The driver can switch around the virtual displays to suit their own requirements. Visually they are barely distinguishable from the physical instruments, but provide much more flexibility.
The brand also has new technology for hi-fi aficionados – 3-D sound brings a three-dimensional, large acoustic stage to in-car music playback. This inspirational technology can be experienced in the “Audi Q7 sound concept” directly in the vehicle and on the booth.
The architecture of the modular infotainment platform enables for the first time hardware components to be kept constantly up to date with minimal effort.
For many years Audi has been a leading brand in terms of lighting technology – at present LED headlights are available in many model series. Electrics/electronics also pave the way for major development advances in this technology area. The lighting on tomorrow’s Audi models will react actively to environmental conditions, thus increasing active safety further.
Audi has developed a broad spectrum of expertise in all areas of vehicle electronics, thus enabling it to explore new ways of co-operating with its suppliers. As part of the Progressive Semi Conductor Program (PSCP) seven semiconductor manufacturers have acquired the status of strategic partners and are therefore integrated into development.
“In all our technical areas the innovation cycles are short, and the competition is cut-throat,” says Ricky Hudi, Head of Electrics/Electronics Development. “At Audi we see that as an obligation to become even more progressive, more agile, and more innovative.”
Audi is the driving force in the driver assistance systems space. Audi developers are constantly working on new technologies that provide drivers with even better assistance. Assistance systems are rapidly increasing in importance – in the near future we will see systems that are able to assume the complete driving task for a limited period of time, if so desired by the driver. Audi refers to this concept as piloted driving.
Driver assistance systems of today
Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function
The ACC Stop & Go function employs one or two rear-mounted radar sensors depending on the configuration. The sensors transmit radar waves in order to detect objects up to 250 meters (820.21 ft) ahead of the vehicle. The driver can vary the distance to the vehicle ahead and the control dynamics in multiple levels – from sporty to comfortable. In stop & go traffic the system slows down the car to a standstill. After a brief stop, such as at a traffic light, it automatically drives off and follows the vehicle ahead; after a longer stop, the driver must tap the accelerator pedal or briefly activate the control stalk. Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function interacts closely with other driver assistance systems; it utilizes the data from almost 30 control units to analyze all of the vehicle’s surroundings. The system uses this broad knowledge base to recognize complex scenarios and offer anticipatory support to the driver. Because it works in conjunction with the MMI Navigation plus, it knows which route lies ahead and can use this information to control the vehicle’s speed.
Audi offers a number of versions of adaptive cruise control for different model series – including without the Stop & Go function. The individual versions differ slightly in their mode of operation due to the different degrees of networking and configurations.
Audi active lane assist
The driver uses the MMI to set how soon the intervention should occur and whether it should be combined with vibration feedback in the steering wheel. If the driver opts for early intervention, the system keeps the car centered in the lane.
The camera of the Audi active lane assist provides differentiated information. For example, it can differentiate between the yellow lines in construction zones and white lines.
Audi side assist
If a vehicle is riding in the blind spot or approaching rapidly from the rear, the information stage is activated. A yellow LED indicator lights up in the housing of the driver’s exterior mirror; the driver sees it when looking into the mirror. If the driver nevertheless activates the turn signal to change lanes, the indicator becomes brighter and flashes multiple times. The optical signals are aimed at the driver. Their brightness varies according to the ambient light level and can be set individually via the MMI.
The night vision assistant
Far infrared technology can look up to 300 meters (984.25 ft) ahead – far beyond the range of the high beams – and it is not affected by glare from headlights or similar light sources. People tend to be conspicuously bright and thus easy to spot in the image due to the heat they give off, whereas the cooler surroundings appear dark.
The image processing software can detect persons up to a range of approximately 100 meters (328.08 ft) within the system constraints. In analyzing the data, it specifically seeks out characteristics of pedestrians, e.g. their contours; any person detected is highlighted in yellow on the screen. If the system predicts a hazard – for example, because a person is crossing the road in front of the car – the person is marked in red and a warning tone sounds. A warning also appears in the optional head-up display.
If the driver wishes to park in the space, he or she shifts into reverse and the park assist system takes over the steering. The driver must accelerate, shift gears, and brake. When parallel parking, the detected space is large enough if it is about 80 centimeters (2.62 ft) longer than the vehicle itself. Park assist can perform multi-point parking maneuvers and also offers support in leaving parallel parking spaces.
Another technology from Audi is the parking system plus with surround view cameras. Four small cameras – in the single-frame grille, at the rear and in the side mirror housings – record the vehicle’s immediate surroundings. The driver can call up a variety of views on the large onboard monitor, including a top-down virtual view. On corners or junctions with an obstructed view, the system can analyze cross-traffic otherwise invisible to the driver in front of or behind the vehicle.
Speed limit display
Audi pre sense
The safety system’s configurations are: Audi pre sense front, Audi pre sense rear and Audi pre sense plus. They work closely together with the Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function and Audi side assist driver assistance systems.
Audi pre sense front monitors traffic in front of the car for potential collision hazards. The system provides multiple levels of driver support. The first stage consists of a visual and audible signal, the second is a jolt caused by briefly applying the brakes to warn the driver. If the driver begins braking, then the system helps by adjusting the required brake pressure.
Should the driver remain passive, partial braking follows as the third stage. This initially decelerates the vehicle with about one-third of the possible brake force. Windows and the sunroof begin to close, the hazard warning lights are activated and the seat belts are tensioned.
If the car has the full version of Audi pre sense plus, a fourth stage comes into play: a second round of partial braking – but this time at a moderate level – followed by maximum braking, during which the seat belts are fully pretensioned. This occurs shortly before impact, when a collision cannot be avoided any longer. Audi pre sense plus reduces the vehicle’s speed by up to 40 km/h (24.85 mph) before impact, which helps mitigate accident severity.
On some models, Audi pre sense front includes an additional function to protect against rear-end collisions at low speeds. At speeds under 30 km/h (18.64 mph) the function automatically brakes the car in critical situations, regardless of whether the vehicle in front is moving or stationary. Under 20 km/h (12.43 mph) this function can prevent an accident entirely under certain circumstances. In other cases, it reduces the vehicle’s speed at impact.
Audi pre sense rear utilizes the Audi side assist sensors and reduces the severity of a rear-end collision. Here, too, it closes the windows and sunroof, and pretensions the seat belts. If the car has optional front memory seats, they adjust to a more favorable position for passenger safety.
Piloted driving: the new dimension in driving pleasure
Piloted driving assists in traffic jams
The new system is based on the functionality of Audi adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go, extended by adding the component of lateral guidance. Two radar sensors monitor everything up to 250 meters (820.21 ft) ahead of the vehicle, at a scan angle of around 35 degrees. A wide-angle video camera monitors the lane markings; it can also detect objects such as pedestrians, other vehicles, and guardrails. Eight ultrasonic sensors monitor the zones directly in front of the car and at its corners. A laser scanner is also used which provides highly precise data over a scanning angle of around 140 degrees up to 80 meters (262.47 ft) in front of the vehicle.
The Audi system for piloted driving in a traffic jam continuously analyzes the car’s speed and the speeds of nearby vehicles. If it detects a traffic jam from the data at speeds below 60 km/h (37.28 mph), the driver can activate the assistance function. By broadly scanning its surroundings, the system can also work in a de facto lane even in the absence of lane markings. The system behaves exactly like the Audi ACC Stop & Go function when moving off and braking; it also reacts cooperatively to cars moving into or out of the lane.
As an assistance function, piloted driving in a traffic jam enables the driver to devote their attention, within certain limits, to other activities while the system is operating. If the vehicle reaches the limits of the function, for instance the traffic jam disperses, the driver is prompted to take over control.
Piloted driving for parking maneuvers at the roadside and in garages
With the help of its sensors, the car drives autonomously into the parking space or the garage under the driver’s supervision, stopping immediately if it detects an obstacle. Upon reaching its final position, it shuts off the engine, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors. Finally, it sends a confirmation to the driver.
Getting out of your own garage or a parking space is just as convenient and easy at the push of a button. As soon as the vehicle has completed the maneuver to get out of the garage, the driver and passengers can easily get in and drive off.
Piloted driving for parking maneuvers in parking garages
The term “Audi connect” covers all applications and developments that connect Audi cars to the owner, the Internet, the infrastructure and other vehicles. Audi began partnering with key suppliers for both the software and hardware components back in 2005. 2009 saw Audi connect Internet services being premiered in the car.
The Bluetooth online car phone and voice control
The Bluetooth online car phone is operated via MMI navigation plus, using the multifunction steering wheel or by voice control. Telephone calls and data transfer are handled by a roof antenna to optimize connectivity. The driver merely needs to insert a data-capable SIM card into the card reader to go online. Alternatively, they can connect their cell phone to the system via Bluetooth if it is equipped with the necessary SIM Access Profile.
The Audi models already constitute a compelling proposition thanks to their excellent ergonomics. This is due in no small part to the voice-activated control system available for many models. The driver can operate key functions of the audio system, navigation, Audi connect, and the telephone – including address book – by voice control.
If a Bluetooth online car phone is installed, voice control can also be used to operate the Point-of-Interest search (POI) – an Audi connect service. The driver can input his or her destination – city, street and house number – in a single sentence; the driver can also enter the names of radio stations, media titles and contacts. Keywords can even be used with the POI search.
The voice command is translated into a data packet and sent to the Google search engines. The responses that appear on the onboard monitor include practical additional information in many instances.
Audi connect services
Audi online traffic information displays up-to-the-minute traffic flow data on the navigation map. If the route chosen by the driver has free-flowing traffic, it is shown in green; yellow indicates dense or slow-moving traffic, and red signifies a traffic jam. In the latter case, the service will explain the problem and suggest a sensible alternative route.
The Audi system covers most European countries; in addition to highways it also includes cities and rural routes. The primary source of data for the database is from countless smartphones and navigation devices that are carried in vehicles and report their current positions at short time intervals to service providers over the cell phone network. A detailed picture of the traffic load situation is derived from the anonymized data provided.
Navigation using Google Earth images and Google Maps Street View makes it far easier to find your way around. Here the driver is able to consult beforehand a street view of his or her selected destination made up of 360° panoramic images; graphics from Google Earth provide navigation to the destination. The map zoom function down to 30 meters (98.43 ft) constitutes an unrivaled feature.
Audi music stream is the web radio from Audi connect. Using this app and UPNP (Universal Plug and Play) technology, the user can receive broadcasts from over 3,000 Internet radio stations. Personal favorites can be saved to a cell phone, and they can be played via the MMI navigation plus system.
This function is integrated via WLAN within the MMI navigation plus operating concept; the onboard audio system handles playback. The app also provides access to the media center on the smartphone via a WLAN link.
The City Events service from Audi connect provides information – optionally using the read-aloud function – on events and concerts at the location, at the travel destination or a freely selectable location. Using airplane and train information from Audi connect, the driver can call up departure times, track numbers and gates and obtain information on any delays. Filter options also allow the user to search directly for a certain flight number. The refueling service lists the best refueling stations; the function also takes into account the type of fuel needed.
The online community services Facebook and Twitter have been prepared for Audi connect in a car-friendly way. In addition to the read-aloud function, there is also a handy text function – the driver can send ready-made templates, combined with data such as the current position. Both services can be tailored to the customer’s individual needs, just like certain other Audi connect services, via a myAudi account using a home PC.
Incoming e-mails can also be transmitted via Bluetooth from the cell phone to the vehicle and read aloud.
The driver can dictate (SMS) text messages; the command to send the message can also be activated via voice.
Another new service from Audi connect is Picturebook Navigation. Here the driver can save photos of destinations, which are linked to geonavigation data (GPS), in the “photo box” of MMI Navigation plus. These may be the driver’s own photos or scenes from Google Maps Street View. Photos can be imported via an SD card or a myAudi account, etc.
Audi connect – outlook
The LTE wireless communication standard
For the immediate future, Audi is embracing the fourth generation mobile standard that is referred to as LTE (Long Term Evolution). The new network supports data rates of up to 150 MBit/s downstream and considerably faster response times. Commercial LTE networks already exist in several European countries and in the USA; in Germany, LTE is already available in some cities and in many rural areas, as well.
LTE technology enables the exchange of large quantities of data, such as music and movies, in HD quality. The onboard WLAN hotspot allows passengers to do different things on different mobile terminal devices at the same time. For example, one passenger can participate in a videoconference while another watches a video.
Audi is striving to be the first automotive service provider to fully integrate the new standard in cars. LTE will find its way into the model range before the end of this year.
Data in the cloud
Car-to-X communication also offers a great deal of potential for disseminating up-to-the-minute traffic information. Similar to Audi online traffic information, it notifies the driver of traffic conditions along a selected route; the usage of Automotive WLAN communications, however, provides more accurate data that is constantly updated.
There are two different scenarios for the establishment of Car-to-X technology, which Audi is helping to promote. One such scenario involves anonymized vehicle data being sent over the wireless network to a central backend. At this point the data is individually processed and the results sent to the individual cars.
The second solution involves data being transmitted from one car to another directly via Automotive WLAN, a special WLAN variant, which is used on a cross-manufacturer basis. Direct communication with the infrastructure, such as traffic lights, can also be set up. The new technology supports the use of a form of collective intelligence. In other words, vehicles and the infrastructure quickly, spontaneously and remotely set up a network.
Clear, intuitive display and operating concepts are one of Audi’s major strengths. The brand has further extended its lead in this area with the new A3 family. The compact models – the three-door Audi A3 and the five-door Audi A3 Sportback – showcase a slew of innovative infotainment solutions.
The MMI terminal in the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback
The MMI touch, which is a solution from the Audi full-size class, works with handwriting recognition. The driver writes letters or numbers he or she wishes to input for navigation or a phone call by fingertip on the pad; the system then provides acoustic feedback after each character. MMI touch will be of special interest to Asian customers, because it can process tens of thousands of characters.
Two rocker switches (“skip buttons”) in front of the touchwheel directly operate the most important areas of Telephone/Navigation and Media/Radio, while a Menu key and a Back key complete the key set. Four softkeys are used to navigate through the menus; a volume control knob, which can be used to skip tracks, complements the MMI user terminal. The menus also have a new layout.
The MMI monitor
The monitor extends electrically from the instrument panel and is angled slightly towards the driver. It is a mere eleven millimeters (0.43 in) thick, similar to a smartphone. A special lamination process is used to bond its layer of glass directly with the surface of the TFT screen – leaving no air between the two components, which enhances visual output and ensures the display is very easy to read even in bright sunlight. The painted housing is produced from ultra-lightweight magnesium, which saves about 50 grams (0.11 lb) in weight. High-gloss and chrome highlights accentuate its elegance.
Driver safety at the center of HMI development at Audi
Thanks to the functional interaction of handwriting recognition and acoustic output of the letters and figures recognized, the system is much more fun to use, the process is faster and the driver’s eyes can remain firmly on the road. In-house driving simulator tests demonstrated an approximately 50 percent improvement in driving quality while performing an operation.
The touchwheel in the new Audi A3 enables us to offer the advantages of this technology for the first time in the compact class as well. But there are also other improvements: the reduction in the number of buttons and the consistent design of what is known as a “haptic landscape” provide the driver with clear orientation on the center console. The two projecting rocker switches provide access to the key functions – such as radio, media, telephone and navigation – and can be found from the central touchwheel without having to glance at them. The same applies to the volume control knob with its integrated joystick as a skip function. Without having to move your hands around, you can jump to the next track or radio station and adjust the volume as required.
For anyone that prefers to interact via voice, a powerful voice control system is naturally also available. You can quickly get to your destination with simple commands or voice entry by stating the city, road and house number in a single utterance. Supplemented by server-based voice recognition services as part of Audi connect, you can also look for Google points of interest using voice commands or even dictate and send (SMS) text messages.
Even though the user interfaces of certain smartphones are designed very intuitively, they nonetheless demand the user’s undivided attention and are not suitable for usage while driving. A recent driving simulator comparison of smartphone and Audi MMI operation (based on the same tasks) reveals an impairment of driving-related variables (average number of times the lane markings were crossed) of up to 800 percent when using the mobile device.
Control and display concepts – outlook
Audi virtual cockpit
The digital display offers virtually unlimited flexibility when arranging and displaying contents. Depending on the driver’s requirements, the focus may be, for instance, on optimum system operation, the best possible route navigation, the explanatory display of active assistance systems or, with a sporty driving style for instance, on the legibility of the instruments.
The Audi virtual cockpit display, whose size and outline are geared to the design of the current instrument cluster, is based on TFT technology. Its high screen resolution provides all content in pin-sharp, brilliant, high-contrast images. High-quality animation, mirror and lighting effects round off the state-of-the-art look. A high-speed graphics processor from Nvidia’s Tegra series works away in the background.
Audi’s underlying operating logic is also retained in the new technology: all the displays and menus are structured in a strictly logical, user-friendly manner. Audi intends to tailor the skin – the digital instrument’s graphical user interface – to the character of its future models; it will become dynamic in the case of a sports car, while it will come across as somewhat more serene with a large sedan. Over the years Audi customers will always have access to new designs and functions.
The 3-D displays
Audi will be showcasing the 3-D displays in two different versions. The first version, which features 2-View technology, includes a small camera that follows the viewer’s eye movements. Based on data from the camera, software calculates the image output so that the viewer always sees a perfect 3-D image on the 11.6-inch display.
The second display – also with an 11.6-inch screen diagonal – utilizes Multi-View technology. This permits 3-D viewing from various angles; in other words it can be used simultaneously by several people. The image content is output in 28 different views following a sophisticated computing process.
The modular infotainment platform
The central computer in the modular infotainment platform, which is housed in the glove box of the A3, comprises two main units in a single housing – the Radio Car Control Unit and the MMX (Multi-Media eXtension) board. Along with its working and flash memories, the plug-in module integrates the latest Tegra processor from Nvidia, which can handle all online, media, voice control, navigation and telephone functions. The new architecture makes it easy to update the hardware; the fact that the MMX board can be swapped out ensures the system is always up to date.
The new Audi A3 and the Audi A3 Sportback feature the Tegra 2 series T 20 processor from market leader Nvidia – a dual-core processor with 1.2 GHz clock frequency and high-speed graphics card. It accelerates playback of many audio and video formats such as mp3 audio and mpeg4 video, which now dominate in the world of mobile entertainment.
The T 20 processor works together with a graphics program from the specialist Rightware; with this combination, Audi is the first carmaker with the capability of displaying three-dimensional graphics in the MMI. The new A3 is stored in the system as a data model, allowing the driver and passengers to explore it virtually.
And the next generation of processors is already in the starting blocks: the Tegra 30, which features quad-core technology, runs at a clock frequency of up to 1.4 GHz. As in the T 20, its power requirements are minimal – which fits in perfectly with Audi’s efficiency strategy.
Nvidia plans to regularly release ever more powerful chips in the years to come, and Audi will fit them in its cars as soon as the new chips are available.
The modular infotainment platform architecture signals a transition into a new era, paving the way for groundbreaking speed and flexibility. Audi is driving forward the integration of components on a broad front. A multichip module will be the next development step in the modular infotainment platform.
3-D sound – the next dimension in music playback
With the addition of 3-D music reproduction, Audi is now planning another major step forward. The brand will be showcasing for the first time in-car 3-D sound at the CES. Visitors will be able to experience first-hand this innovation in an Audi Q7 prototype, dubbed the “Audi Q7 sound concept”, and as part of a sound experience on the Audi booth. With stereo and 5.1 surround sound the music is reproduced in a single plane and thus ignores the 3-D information included in the music recordings. In the case of concerts the sound waves are reflected on the floor and ceiling and to a certain extent are specifically reproduced through loudspeakers above the stage. The 3-D acoustic dimension of the music recording is reproduced more naturally and more inspirationally than ever through 3-D sound. This produces an airiness and openness of the acoustics which corresponds to human hearing.
The new technology that is currently being rolled out in movie theaters and living rooms provides a third dimension – height – in addition to the familiar 5.1 surround sound. Audi has developed the technology together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) in Erlangen, Germany, for use in the car interior. The current Advanced Sound System in the Audi Q7 provided the basis.
The “Audi Q7 sound concept” prototype, however, features 23 loudspeakers with an amplifier output of over 1,400 watts. In particular, four special loudspeakers have been integrated for the 3-D sound, including two tweeters located in the top section of the roof pillars. A sophisticated algorithm has been used to extract information on the third dimension from conventional stereo or 5.1 recordings, which is then prepared for the height loudspeakers.
3-D sound is set to make its debut in a new Audi model as early as next year.
The Audi Phone Box
Audi also underscores its prowess in the field of lighting technology. The brand already offers LED headlights in many model series. The new technologies that Audi is developing for the future boast a high degree of intelligence and are controlled entirely electronically.
Today’s lighting technologies
Audi adaptive light
The variable headlight range control is an especially attractive component for the adaptive light. A video camera recognizes preceding and approaching vehicles by their lights. The control unit adapts the range of the vehicle’s own light accordingly – through a smooth range that always provides the maximum possible illumination.
A technological breakthrough from Audi is the networking of the headlight control unit with the MMI navigation plus. The navigation system reads the route data in advance and relays them to the light computer, so as to activate the longer-range highway lighting while still on the on-ramp to the highway, for example. The system automatically switches on the cornering lights before entering an intersection; in countries like the United Kingdom, it automatically switches the headlights from driving on the right to driving on the left.
LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights
Rear lights using LED technology are available either as standard or as an option for all Audi models. They produce a distinctive light pattern that in many cases also produces three-dimensional effects. The light-emitting diodes reach their full light intensity almost instantaneously – if the driver has to brake suddenly, the driver behind gains valuable fractions of a second.
Indicator light with dynamic display
The wipe-action indicator controls the LEDs sequentially in blocks in the turning direction, from the inside to the outside edge of the vehicle. Other road users benefit from the clearer indicator direction.
The function is provided by 30 LEDs arranged linearly, which are driven successively in seven segments at an interval of 150 milliseconds. The advantages: additional direction information, more intuitive indicator signal and more road safety.
With a color temperature of 5,500 Kelvin, the light from LEDs resembles daylight and is therefore much less tiring for the eyes. The light-emitting diodes are virtually maintenance-free and designed for the life of the vehicle. They also score points in efficiency with their low power consumption. The low beams, for example, consume only around 40 watts per unit, five percent less than the already highly efficient xenon plus headlights.
The innovative technology of the LED headlights has led to a radically new design. On the Audi A8, for instance, the low beams comprise ten individual lens modules extending through the headlight in a distinctive arc below the chrome contour known as the wing, on account of its shape. Directly below this is another arc of 22 white and 22 yellow LEDs for the daytime running lights and the indicators. Their thick wall technology makes them appear to the onlooker as homogeneous, continuous strips of light.
The high-beam headlight is housed above the wing. Its light is generated by two powerful four-chip LEDs and a free-form reflection system; an assistance function switches between the low and main beams. Additional high-output LEDs generate the highway light and the cornering light. LEDs do not reach especially high temperatures. Red light-emitting diodes withstand about 120 and white ones 150 degrees Celsius – much less than halogen headlights, which generate temperatures of up to 400 degrees Celsius.
Audi’s designers therefore make sure that the LEDs transmit their heat in a targeted manner to the headlight glass by using fans, in order to keep it free of snow in winter and prevent misting over.
Lighting technologies – outlook
Audi Matrix LED headlights
The “Matrix Beam” principle consists of dividing the LED main-beam headlight up into a large number of individual segments. The small individual diodes backed by lenses or reflectors always provide excellent illumination without needing a swiveling mechanism. They are simply switched on and off individually or dimmed to suit the situation.
The Audi Matrix LED headlights obtain the information they need from a camera, the navigation system or additional sensors. If the camera detects other vehicles, these innovative headlights fade out the appropriate area of the high-beam headlights, which contain various light-source sectors. The headlights can also illuminate the areas between several vehicles in complex situations. Based on navigation data, the high-beam headlight anticipates the bend and swivels to illuminate the road before the driver has even turned the wheel.
The “Matrix Beam” technology provides developers with fascinating opportunities in terms of the number of individual LEDs, their layout and the size and styling of the headlights. This functionality is also reflected in the special headlight styling. The illumination of the segments can also be seen from the outside.
The challenges that need to be mastered relate to the extremely low tolerances permitted during manufacture and assembly of the components, the methods used to energize the headlights and control them independently, along with the overall efficiency of the package, the uniformity of the conical light beam and the airflow path through the headlights. Audi is in a position to answer all these questions, so that the new technology will soon be introduced on production cars.
Laser tail light
In fog or spray, the laser beam strikes the water droplets in the air and makes them visible; the line is then seen as a triangle. The laser tail light looks like a large warning triangle.
The material is spread extremely thinly – the coating is only a few thousandths of a millimeter thick – on an absolutely flat surface such as highly polished display glass. When an electrical voltage is applied, the molecules emit photons and the surface lights up. The light distribution is very homogeneous and very energy-efficient. They are ideally suited for use inside the vehicle or in rear lights.
External light design using OLED technology, which Audi is aiming to adopt, will be as intelligent as it is attractive. It can, for example, react to the approaching driver, follow his or her movements and highlight the main contours of the vehicle or the door handle. When the driver has entered the car, restrained OLED lighting will become active inside.
The movements of the red dots follow the movements of the vehicle. When a right turn is made, they flow to the right; when the car is braked, they flow rapidly forwards; the faster the car goes, the faster they move. The following driver can always see right away what the driver of the car in front is doing.
AMOLED technology / digital rearview mirror
The high-resolution AMOLED display is mounted on the headlining of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, which does not have a rear window. It offers a visible screen diagonal of 6.8 inches; each of its 600,000-plus pixels can be driven individually.
It offers ten times more contrast and consumes around 30 percent less energy than a corresponding LCD monitor; switching times are just a few milliseconds irrespective of the ambient temperature. Including its mechanism the display is just 7 millimeters (0.28 in) thick.
The small, lightweight camera sits on the back of the R18 e-tron quattro under the roof edge; its cover lens is heated to prevent it misting over or freezing. With its extremely high dynamic range of around 130 dB, the camera is roughly on a par with the contrast range of the human eye. It uses a lens with a diameter of just a few millimeters and covers a much larger field of vision than a conventional rearview mirror.
A control unit, which also provides the power supply, calculates the colors and contrast ratios of the data so that the image is always brilliant and detailed. In the dark the control unit prevents the headlights of other cars from dazzling the driver.
Architecture and processes
Virtually all the innovations that Audi brings to automotive applications are intrinsically linked with progress in microelectronics. Semiconductors are finding their way into virtually all areas of the vehicle and functions, right down to controlling the door locks, seat adjustment and lights. Over 6,000 chips are now used in the large Audi models. This massive increase in distributed functions calls for higher bandwidths for the data networks within the vehicle and comprehensive integration of the individual domain computers.
The Progressive Semi Conductor Program: Audi’s semiconductor strategy Audi is actively promoting progress in semiconductor technology – the innovative strategy known as PSCP (Progressive Semi Conductor Program) is a key factor in future innovations. The brand places stringent requirements on the chips, particularly regarding criteria such as long-term quality, integration and weight saving.
The bar is particularly high with innovations such as Nvidia’s new Tegra graphics chips, which Audi decided to use in its vehicles shortly after the chips were launched.
In the past, automakers limited themselves to commissioning a system supplier to develop a control unit, handing over a great deal of the responsibility for the associated contents. Audi has abandoned this structure in the PSCP, which was launched at the end of 2010. The system supplier remains an important contact, but Audi’s engineers now also talk directly to the semiconductor manufacturers. Seven of them now have the status of strategic partners.
Several initial projects have already been completed. This intensive dialog promotes understanding among everyone involved; it leads to higher efficiency and effectiveness and to compelling innovations. In order to manage development even more effectively, Audi is developing its own in-house semiconductor technology expertise.
The CES, the world’s most important electronics trade fair, offers Audi an attractive platform for showcasing innovations. The highlights of its presence include not only numerous high-end exhibits but also the new Audi RS 5 Cabriolet and the winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans sports car.
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro
At the front axle sits the innovative motor generator unit (MGU). A generator and a converter transform energy recovered during braking phases into direct current; this powers a flywheel accumulator, which is located in the cockpit next to the driver. The electricity accelerates a CFRP flywheel, which runs in a vacuum, to up to 45,000 rpm.
When exiting the bend, the driver can retrieve the energy from the accumulator. It then supplies the MGU’s two electric motors that drive the front wheels with up to 150 kW (204 hp) of power – for a short time the Audi R18 TDI is a quattro with four driven wheels. So that this did not become too much of an advantage, the organizers of the Le Mans 24 Hours restricted the use of the MGU to the speed range above 120 km/h (74.56 mph), to a maximum of 500 kilojoules of energy and to seven zones on the circuit.
The Audi with chassis number R18-208 took the checkered flag in the Le Mans 24 Hours after 378 laps and 5151.762 km (3201.16 miles). Runner-up was the R8 e-tron quattro with Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, just one lap behind. The two purely TDI-powered Audi R18 ultra cars rounded off the brand’s success by taking third and fifth position – the eleventh overall victory at Le Mans in 14 attempts since 1999.
The digital rearview mirror, which was fitted in all four racing cars under the roof, was a great help for the Audi drivers. Conventional exterior mirrors do not provide a sharp image at high race speeds due to the inevitable vibrations. In the dark the other vehicles’ headlights can blind the driver, while the spray impairs visibility in the rain.
The digital rearview mirror resolved all these problems. The intelligent processing of the signals, provided by the camera mounted on the roof, enables the interference components to be largely eliminated from the image. The AMOLED display, whose 600,000 individual pixels can be driven separately, provides excellent high-resolution, brilliant images with a wealth of detail.
The display’s extremely short switching times ensure perfectly smooth images – even at the 330 km/h (205.05 mph) top speed when the racing cars were covering 92 meters (301.84 ft) every second. The AMOLED display also provides drivers with a gear indicator, tire slip gauge or individual warning lamps.
The Audi RS 5 Cabriolet
The high-revving 4.2 FSI develops 331 kW (450 hp) at 8,250 rpm; it produces 430 Nm (317.15 lb-ft) of torque between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm. The naturally aspirated unit breathes freely; flaps in the exhaust tailpipes vary the sonorous acoustic backdrop. Acceleration from zero to 100 km/h takes 4.9 seconds; as an option Audi can increase the top speed from 250 (155.34 mph) to 280 km/h (173.98 mph). Average fuel consumption for the powerful V8 is just 10.9 liters per 100 km (21.58 US mpg).
Thanks to the long ratio of the highest gear the seven-speed S tronic makes a major contribution to fuel efficiency. The driver can have the dual-clutch transmission with its instantaneous, smooth gearchanges shift automatically in the D or S programs, or he or she can manually shift with the gearshift lever or the paddles on the steering wheel. Launch Control manages starts with maximum traction at the push of a button.
In its latest development stage, the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system features the crown-gear center differential and torque vectoring. Audi also offers the optional sport differential for the rear axle, which actively distributes the power between the wheels.
The five-link front suspension and the self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension of the Audi RS 5 Cabriolet consist largely of aluminum. The speed-dependent power steering system has an electromechanical drive that operates in a highly efficient manner. The body is 20 mm (0.79 in) lower than that of the Audi A5 Cabriolet; its mounts are stiffer, and its anti-roll bars are larger and stronger. Forged aluminum wheels, size 9 J x 19 with 265/35 tires, come as standard; Audi will also fit 20-inch wheels as an option.
Internally ventilated and perforated brake discs in a weight-saving wave design bring the vehicle to a stop; pins are used to join the discs to the aluminum brake pots – a concept adopted from motorsport. The front brake callipers operate with eight pistons each; Audi can deliver the car with carbon fiber-reinforced ceramic front discs as an option. The ESP stabilization system has a Sport mode and can also be completely deactivated.
Audi drive select is a standard feature in the RS 5 Cabriolet. The driver can use this function to select various modes which vary the characteristics of major technology components. These components include the throttle valve, the seven-speed S tronic, the steering and the exhaust system sound flaps as well as the optional components: sport differential, dynamic steering, the sport suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC). This is a purely mechanical system, whose damping can be switched between three characteristics.
The dynamism of the Audi RS 5 Cabriolet instantly catches the eye. The wedge-shaped headlights with wave-like lower edges illuminate with xenon plus lamps and LED strips that form the daytime running lights. Large air intakes are embedded in the distinctively shaped front apron whose ends run out into splitter edges. A frame in matt aluminum look surrounds the hexagonal single-frame grille.
Sill add-ons and wheel housing extensions dominate the car’s appearance in side profile. The door mirror housings have an aluminum look, while the surface of the windshield frame is made of matt anodized aluminum. Elegant LED light strips illuminate in the taillights.
The rear bumper boasts powerful lines; its diffuser is now much higher. A matt carbon spoiler lip provides additional downforce at the rear.
The lightweight textile roof spans over the interior space of the RS 5 Cabriolet which is 4.65 meters (15.26 ft) long; a foam layer delivers high acoustic comfort. At the press of a button, the soft top opens and closes in around 16 seconds; when open, it only requires 60 liters (2.12 cubic ft) of its 380 liters (13.42 cubic ft) total volume. The rear seatbacks can be folded over to provide a large load-through hatch.
The interior of the four-seater convertible is styled in sporty black, and the inner soft top liner can be ordered in the optional color star silver. The inlays come as standard in carbon fiber reinforced polymer; fine chrome highlights and high-gloss black trim underscore the car’s exclusive appearance. The steering wheel comes with a flat-bottomed rim; the dials are finished in black. The driver information system integrates a lap timer for circuit times and an oil temperature gauge. The S sport seats with integrated head restraints have power adjustments, a combination of leather and Alcantara is used for the seat covers. Special pigmentation prevents the leather from heating up in strong sunlight.