The vision behind the Audi AICON concept is a technological statement. The message is: watch out, future!
Text: Patrick Morda, CGI/Postproduction: RECOM
The dragonfly is one of the animal kingdom’s most effective and efficient hunters. Since it can to a certain extent predict its prey’s movements, it is able to keep up the chase—even when dinner temporarily disappears from view. Dragonflies on the hunt switch over to a kind of autopilot, instinctively selecting or changing to the most promising meal. What are known as its CSTMD1 neurons are responsible for this behavior. Researchers at the Medical School of the University of Adelaide in Australia are endeavoring to learn from the dragonfly in order to make autonomous driving safer and more comfortable in the future. What makes the flying insect a good model for tomorrow’s mobility? One day, when cars are fully autonomous and rely on artificial intelligence rather than human choices, it’s essential that they be able to cut through a flood of information to make the right decision at the right time.
That sounds like part of a pretty distant future - one where drivers and cars will admittedly assume completely new roles. Technically speaking, it’s what is known as Level 5 on the autonomous driving scale. Between Level 0 and Level 5, active human intervention by a driver is gradually phased out. From today’s perspective, Level 0 is for all intents and purposes the recent past, while Level 5 is a long way off. As of now, we’re crossing the threshold from Level 2 to Level 3. In reality, the highest level represents an autonomous driving paradigm that is only theoretically attainable. And carmakers wouldn’t be the only ones responsible for getting there. That’s because Level 5 involves maximum networking and control of all traffic zones. For this reason, Audi is focusing in practice on ensuring that the areas of application and situations where Level 3 and 4 vehicles can be used are quickly and systematically expanded, opening the way to greater freedom and usable time.
Yet the thinking doesn’t stop there. After all, the vision of one day engaging with mobility as a passive, passenger-seat experience that nevertheless feels supremely active, of making good use of the time it takes to get from A to B irrespective of what is happening on the roads, is an enticing one. With comfort, efficiency and personalization taken to new heights, cars - or vehicle interiors - will become a newfound living space.