Design study, technology demonstrator, mobility concept: The Audi Aicon exploits every possibility offered by a autonomous luxury sedan of the future with unprecedented consistency. As a design study, the four-door 2+2 boldly leaps ahead to show the exterior and interior design of the next decades. The technology demonstrator combines innovations relating to the drivetrain, suspension, digitalization and sustainability in a visionary manner. And as a mobility concept, the Audi Aicon shows the world of tomorrow, in which the advantages of door-to-door individual transportation are combined with the luxurious ambiance of a first-class airline cabin.
Pure presence – the exterior
The Audi Aicon looks spectacular from any angle. Its sheer size – an exterior length of 5,444 millimeters (17.9 ft), a width of 2,100 millimeters (6.9 ft) and a height of 1,506 millimeters (4.9 ft) – places it in the automotive top tier, the D segment.The designers reduced the front and rear ends to a minimum of lines and focused on large, uninterrupted surfaces. As with the Audi e-tron Sportback concept, the Aicon front features the inverted hexagonal Singleframe, a typical feature of the upcoming generation of electric cars from Audi. The sharply inclined silhouette of the entire front end evokes a sense of forging ahead – this, too, is a typical sports car body line.
LED lighting technology
Conventional headlights and lighting units are absent from both the front and rear of this car. Instead there are fully digital display surfaces comprising hundreds of triangular pixel segments. They are three-dimensional recreations of the Audi AI symbol. Grouped around the Singleframe are large light fields, in which – as at the rear – more than 600 3D pixels are arranged in space. The large surfaces and high pixel count enable versatile graphics, animations and information visualizations in any color. The Audi Aicon is thus no longer bound to a daytime running lights look, but rather can adapt to the driving situation and even its passengers. The customization is boundless. Horizontally cut lighting segments to the left and right of the Singleframe look like eyes and can be expanded to resemble wide pupils or squinted for an aggressive look. If the car detects passers-by or other road users, it literally makes eye contact with them and follows them with its “eyes.”
Space, form, function – the interior
The Audi Aicon features opposed doors that open to the front and rear. There is no B-pillar. The entire breadth of the interior is thus exposed to the passengers as they get in the car. In the interior, the lines of the decorative surfaces and functional elements are markedly horizontal. Becoming lighter from bottom to top, the interior reinforces the impression of unique spaciousness, and the lack of a steering wheel and a classic dashboard creates a sense of openness and expanse. The architecture of the seats is the automotive reinterpretation of a classic piece of furniture, the lounge chair. The seat cushion and backrest are visually separated from one another. Two outer shells support the light-colored, pillow-like upholstery elements with a square-quilted surface. The side bolsters of the backrest are subtly angled to provide sufficient support in curves. There is also plenty of space in the Audi Aicon long-distance vehicle for luggage, of course. Thanks to the space-saving design of the electric drive, there is a storage compartment at both the front and the rear of the vehicle with a combined capacity of roughly 660 liters (23.3 cu ft). The Aicon also offers numerous storage options in the passenger compartment.
Operation and communication
The oft-cited paradigm change in the automotive world – it shows in the Audi Aicon. One glance is all it takes to realize that all of the controls and displays are missing. Steering wheel, pedals, groups of buttons and instruments – nothing. Instead just wide, uninterrupted surfaces. The interior quickly comes to life once passengers enter. Illuminated lines of LEDs set colorful accents in the area of the doors. The front display lights up with a welcome message. PIA, the empathetic electronic vehicle assistant, recognizes the passenger by his phone and activates all of his personal settings. There are custom settings for the air conditioning and seating position, interior light color and the layout of the infotainment system. The navigation system awaits entry of a destination, and all accessible channels of communication are ready for use, connected via the fastest available standard.
New are the variably positionable control interfaces in the encircling door rail. Depending on the position of the seats, which can be shifted by up to 50 centimeters (19.7 in), ergonomically perfectly positioned touch and display elements are available in the digitized wrap-around. Your hand instinctively finds its way to the touch-sensitive control panels.
There are multiple input modes available for engaging with the car. Besides the haptic-manual layer, there are also voice control and eye tracking, in which sensors in the front end of the interior track where the passenger is looking.
The full range of services offered by modern communications electronics are available at all times in the Audi Aicon. Travellers can relax and watch a film or surf the web. Video conferences are another option, as is interaction on social media. Depending on the seating position, the passengers can use the large front display as the output surface or a virtual head-up image displayed above it in the windshield.
The glass roof panels can block out the sunlight, if desired. Their transparency level changes upon application of an electric voltage. Integrated OLED lighting elements allow for precise mood lighting or the even illumination of the interior when getting in or out of the car, for instance.
The Audi Aicon opens up a new world of mobility to its passengers. Freed from the tasks of driving, they can choose how to spend their time in the car. Working, communicating or simply just relaxing and even napping: Anything is possible while the car autonomously and safely finds its way.
Optimized for the long haul
A highly efficient electric drive provides for the dynamics of the Audi Aicon. A total of four electric motors are located in the area of the front and rear axles. The energy storage units are integrated into the area below the floor. The four electric motors produce a total of 260 kW and 550 Newtonmeters (405.7 lb-ft). Each drives one wheel, enabling electronically controlled, variable quattro all-wheel drive. Maximum acceleration played a less important role in the specification than maximum efficiency and thus also range.
This operating strategy is also pursued by the powertrain and electric brake units, which use recuperation to recover energy. Targeted lightweight construction of the multimaterial body and optimized aerodynamics also help the Audi Aicon to achieve ranges between 700 and 800 kilometers (435.0 - 497.1 mi) on a single charge.
Even charging has been reduced to a minimum. Thanks to a high-voltage system with 800 volts, the Aicon’s battery unit can be charged to 80 percent of capacity in less than 30 minutes. The car is also equipped with a unit of inductive, i.e. wireless, charging. The Aicon manages both without a driver. In an AI Zone, it can pull up to a charging station on its own and charge its battery without any human assistance.
As a true quattro, the Audi Aicon offers ample performance and even autonomously always reaches its destination safely regardless of the weather or road surface. The suspension is designed for maximum comfort. Pneumatic spring and damper units smooth out any road surface irregularities.
The Audi Aicon is an all-arounder well prepared for its primary task: to offer a maximum of comfort, communications technology and freedom for its occupants during a long journey. It combines the scopes for autonomous driving in an urban environment and on the highway with an unprecedented range for an electric drive. The Aicon will be followed by further multitalented Audi models, each with their own specialized discipline, ensuring that the vehicle range of the brand with the four rings remains as diverse as it is fascinating.
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