The New Audi TT: emotive Technology

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Audi virtual cockpit
On board systems

The operating concept
The new TT operating concept has been redeveloped from the bottom up – and in keeping with its thoroughbred sports car character, all elements are focused on the driver. The Coupé features two major brand innovations – the new MMI operating system and the Audi virtual cockpit – a digital instrument cluster.

The Audi virtual cockpit
Razor sharp, bright and high-contrast – the Audi virtual cockpit sets new standards for the automotive industry. Its 12.3-inch diagonal TFT display offers a high resolution of 1440 x 540 pixels. Working away in the background is a Tegra chip 30 from the Tegra 3-series provided by Audi’s partner Nvidia. Audi is the first automotive manufacturer in the world to use the fast graphics processor. With a clock frequency of over 1 GHz, the quad-core chip, which works with a special 3D-graphics program, is capable of executing eight billion operations per second.

Lavish details complete the state-of-the-art look and set the displays in motion. The rev counter is calculated at around 60 frames per second, so that the virtual needle moves easily and with extreme precision – a new record for the car. The Fresnel effects – which are different display glass reflections depending on the viewing angle – are realistically recreated. Scrolling processes, such as lists, are based on a physical model that takes into account factors such as inertia, elasticity and damping.

The driver can switch between two user interfaces using the “View” button on the multifunction steering wheel. In Infotainment mode, the display is dominated by a central window and offers a large area for the navigation map or the telephone, radio and audio menus. The tachometer and speedometer, the latter including a digital display, are displayed on the left and right as small round instruments.

The classic view is when the central window is smaller and the instruments – with black scales, red pointers and white numbers – are around as big as today’s analog displays. The Audi TTS features a third, sporty mode in which the display is dominated by a central rev counter. The scales are displayed in Anthracite Gray and the numbers and needles are white – typical of the S design.

When displaying information, the Audi virtual cockpit is both flexible and versatile and displays navigation arrows, dynamic vehicle animations, images from the reversing camera or assistance systems graphics. The display changes color depending on the base menu being used: The media menu is usually orange and the phone menu is green. On its lower edge there are fixed displays showing ambient temperature, time and odometer readings, as well as warning and information symbols. LEDs provide information on the coolant temperature and fuel level.

As with all components featured in the new TT, it goes without saying that the Audi virtual cockpit sets the benchmark extremely high in terms of quality. The hardware components were scrutinized during all stages of development and production, while keeping pace with the software development, step by step.

The standards applied during the hardware development process were also as stringent. In the new TT, the Audi virtual cockpit components were put through their paces in quality testing and validation states to cope with stresses that consumer electronic appliances rarely come across – particularly extreme temperatures and high mechanical strains.

For instance, to test the shock resistance the fully installed instrument cluster is shaken and vibrated in three axes. This is where the high-strength and also lightweight, fiber-reinforced supporting structure really plays to its strengths – it provides the foundation for the high level of robustness and durability enjoyed by the Audi virtual cockpit.

The tests conducted separately on the semi-conductor elements are equally as tough. One of the tests consists of approx. 1000 hours of operation at over 100 degrees Celsius; another test required electronic components to be subjected to hundreds of temperature cycles from -50 up to +105 degrees Celsius.

Audi has also realized an intelligent management system to ensure that the large display and integrated graphics chip from Nvidia have a long service life. Active air circulation supplies the display and relevant electronic components with cooling interior air as and when required – and virtually silently as well.

A few months before series production began, the new TT was tested under real customer conditions over thousands of kilometers in final quality tests. The increasing number of software functions and a fully functioning display in the new Audi virtual cockpit at all times and under all conditions are gaining in importance.

Every single display must pass an extensive testing process when it reaches the end of the production line. Part of this process includes testing the optical parameter by a high-resolution camera system, which checks the brightness, contrast and homogeneity and adjusts the colors. This tests also ensure that the display is screwed in flat – after all, even minor warping can compromise the picture quality. This is why an additional sensor continuously monitors the display’s functionality.

The new MMI
Every bit as groundbreaking as the Audi virtual cockpit is the MMI system – the terminal on the center tunnel console and its menu structure have been completely redesigned. The result is a flat hierarchy operation that optimally meets driver needs. The logic resembles that of smartphones and tablets and replaces the static, menu trees including lots of branches with intuitive, easy-to-use logic. One example is that frequently used functions can be accessed with just a few clicks.

The center of the terminal also includes a control knob, the user interface of which supports the touch-sensitive MMI touch. The touch pad is used for handwriting recognition, and now also handles multi-finger gestures. This means the driver can scroll through lists using two fingers or zoom in on the map, as if he was using a smartphone. An optical sensor monitors the rotational movements of the high precision clicking actuator that is accurate to a hundredth of a millimeter and that offers almost seamless movement.

The flip buttons for the main base menus – navigation/map, phone, radio and media – are located above the control knob. The general menu button and back button are centrally located under the touch wheel. In each case there is only one button on the left and right-hand sides.

The left-hand button opens the redesigned function menus, which are linked to of the base menus. For instance, the radio menu features band selection and the map menu provides traffic information. Like the right mouse button on a PC, the right-hand button opens context-related options and settings. The driver can use the navigation menu to be guided to a particular destination, to display parking in the vicinity of the destination or to save the destination in the Favorites list. The driver can also open function and context menus by using the rotary pushbutton like a joystick and pushing it to the left or right.

MMI search with free text input
One special feature of the new system is the MMI search function, which is available for all base menus and allows free text input like a search engine. The function usually answers questions after a few letters have been entered and takes the location of the car into account. To search for a restaurant, the driver only needs to enter the name of the restaurant and the first letters of the city – the results will then appear in a list covering the whole of Europe and including addresses. Searching for songs, albums and radio stations follows a similar route.

The voice control system has been further developed and now recognizes many phrases from everyday speech. The concentrated computing power of the Audi modular Infotainment System forms the basis for the new MMI. Now in its second generation – it debuted in the new TT – it uses a super-fast Tegra 30 processor from Nvidia.

A multifunction steering wheel is available as an alternative control option to the MMI, and offers buttons and rollers that can perform a host of operating steps. Without having to look away from the road, the driver can use the steering wheel to perform the same operations as on the MMI terminal, except for the touch gestures.

The workmanship
Numerous interior details demonstrate the high standards set by Audi for the function and quality of all controls. The appeal of the Audi virtual cockpit and MMI terminal lies in their high-precision functions. The round air vents with narrow chrome rings, finely fluted rotating wheels and a new, perforated gear stick deserve special mention. In the Audi TTS, the surface of the instrument panel has a new grain – a strictly geometric pyramid pattern created with an innovative laser process.

Another highlight are the speaker covers in the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system, which have fine grooves instead of the usual holes. A strip of anodized aluminum bearing the logo of the Danish hi-fi specialists engraved in laser runs along the top of the bass speakers fitted in the doors. Between this and the speaker grille is a narrow light guide emitting white LED light. The optional LED interior lighting package accentuates specific highlights around the doors and center tunnel.

The equipment
All variants of the new TT Coupé roll off the production line complete with a generous standard equipment package. But Audi also offers a range of special equipment in addition to standard features. These include the convenience key, the Start Assist system, the high-beam assistant (for the Xenon plus and LED headlights), the LED interior lighting package, front seat heating and also the storage and luggage compartment package.

Customers can choose between different infotainment modules. The connectivity package already includes MMI touch. The top of the range element of the kit is MMI navigation plus offering a huge memory, two card readers, a DVD drive, Bluetooth interface and voice control system.

The Audi connect system is the ideal complement to MMI navigation plus. It connects the new TT to the Internet using the fast LTE transmission standard.

The integrated Wi-Fi hotspot allows passengers to surf the Internet and email as they wish. The driver can use the Audi connect customized services, from navigation functions using Google Earth images to Google Street View for parking information. Attractive modules complete the range: The Audi phone box offers convenient docking for your cell phone, and the Bang & Olufsen sound system controls 12 speakers via a 14-channel amplifier.

Powerful assistance systems make driving the new TT even more enjoyable. Available options include: Audi side assist with rear radar measurement that makes changing lanes safer; camera-based traffic sign recognition; Audi active lane assist, which offers optional support for the driver with continuous steering correction or warns of unintentional lane changes and park assist with ambient display, which automatically steers the car into suitable spaces.

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