Automotive

Audi traverses the self-driving tightrope with Elaine concept

Audi traverses the self-drivin...
The Audi Elaine concept, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show 
The Audi Elaine concept, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show 
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The shapely rear end of the Audi Elaine concept 
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The shapely rear end of the Audi Elaine concept 
The Elaine concept has a 500 km electric range 
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The Elaine concept has a 500 km electric range 
The Elaine concept was initially displayed in Shanghai
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The Elaine concept was initially displayed in Shanghai
The Audi Elaine concept has a clever semi-autonomous drive system 
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The Audi Elaine concept has a clever semi-autonomous drive system 
The Elaine concept shares plenty of its styling cues with production Audis 
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The Elaine concept shares plenty of its styling cues with production Audis 
The Audi Elaine concept, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show 
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The Audi Elaine concept, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show 
Staring into the eyes of the Elaine concept 
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Staring into the eyes of the Elaine concept 
Audi says the Elaine concept has more advanced sensors on its exterior than the e-tron Sportback 
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Audi says the Elaine concept has more advanced sensors on its exterior than the e-tron Sportback 
The Elaine concept is fully electric 
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The Elaine concept is fully electric 
The touch-first interior of the Audi Elaine concept 
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The touch-first interior of the Audi Elaine concept 
The swooping roofline of the Elaine concept makes for a handsome SUV 
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The swooping roofline of the Elaine concept makes for a handsome SUV 
Behind the wheel of the Audi Elaine concept 
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Behind the wheel of the Audi Elaine concept 
Audi is pushing its artificial intelligence systems with its latest concept cars 
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Audi is pushing its artificial intelligence systems with its latest concept cars 
The Audi Elaine concept, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show 
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The Audi Elaine concept, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show 
The Audi Elaine concept is a semi-autonomous look at the brand's future
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The Audi Elaine concept is a semi-autonomous look at the brand's future
The Audi Elaine concept 
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The Audi Elaine concept 

Audi is using the Frankfurt Motor Show to put self-driving tech in the spotlight, with both concept and production cars. Along with the fully-autonomous Aicon, the automaker unveiled the oddly-named (but sharply-styled) Elaine, a concept SUV capable of swapping between autonomous and human-driven modes.

Eagle-eyed readers will recognize the Elaine from the Shanghai Auto Show, where it was released as the e-tron Sportback. The car on show in Frankfurt differs from the Chinese concept in a few ways, most of them found under the skin. To start with, it has a much smarter zFAS controller – the control unit responsible for managing the self-driving systems – installed.

It also has a faster processor and a more advanced sensor array, both of which allow for autonomous driving between 60 and 130 km/h (37 to 81 mph) on the highway. Audi says this capability is an extension of the traffic jam pilot system in the current A8. The car will automatically change lanes to overtake, too, unlike current semi-autonomous cars, which force the driver to initiate the maneuver.

The Elaine concept has a 500 km electric range 
The Elaine concept has a 500 km electric range 

Central to this vision for our self-driving future is communication between infrastructure and the car. Audi suggests owners could leave the car in a designated "handover zone" when they get close to their destination. Having unloaded the driver, the car communicates with its surroundings and finds a parking spot, charging station or car wash all by itself. When the driver comes back, the car will cruise to the "handover zone" to collect them.

While we're talking about technology designed to make the driver's life easier, it's worth talking about PIA, or personal intelligent assistant. Audi says it combines information from the driver with traffic reports and live internet updates to tailor the content displayed in the cabin. That means it can suggest entertainment options, find parking spaces, or keep a comfortable gap to the car in front based on the driver's past behavior. This data is all stored remotely, so drivers can transfer their profile from car to car.

If the driver is willing to wear a fitness tracker, the car can accurately keep track of how tired or stressed they are. The in-cabin display can guide the driver in breathing exercises, and the seats can be configured to massage passengers to the beat of music. If you're anything like me, both of those things sound incredibly annoying, and are more likely to raise your heart rate than lower it.

Behind the wheel of the Audi Elaine concept 
Behind the wheel of the Audi Elaine concept 

Under the skin, power comes from a 320-kW (429-hp) electric powertrain good for a 63 mph (100 km/h) sprint of 4.5 seconds. The underfloor 95-kWh battery is good for a 500-km (311-mi) range on the New European Drive Cycle, and can be charged wirelessly. A 150-kW fast charger is also part of the concept.

The Elaine concept is on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where New Atlas is on the ground covering all the action. Stay tuned for the latest.

Source: Audi

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