While the big news from Audi this week has been the development of the first production-ready autonomous vehicle, the redone A8 introduced has much more headline-making technology stuffed inside.
Indeed, if it weren't for the autonomous mode news that pushed the arrival of this tech by years, there would have been other information of equal importance coming out of the automaker.
First car available with scanning lidar system
For example, the A8 is the first car equipped with laser scanning radar – lidar. The lidar provides a live, continuously updating stream of data about the surroundings to a central driving assistance controller, z FAS. In itself, the z FAS system is an exciting technology, but on its own, it does little to push the technology envelope. However, when you combine it with the technology that underlies autonomous driving you have a much more interesting story.
By combining those pieces of technology, you now have a car that can park itself in a garage, without the need for a driver sitting there. Like autonomy, the self-parking piece will require activation by the dealer.
Moving along on the technology features offered on the redesigned A8, buyers will find an active suspension system, powered by a 48-volt electric power grid. The A8’s technology team developed electric motors for each wheel that change the suspension parameters based on road conditions. The system takes its data feed from cameras scanning the road ahead.
If you noticed the voltage, you might have also come to the conclusion that the A8 is also a mild hybrid. The mild-hybrid system is available on all the A8’s available engines. This system, which relies on a belt-driven alternator-starter motor, reduces fuel consumption so that the A8 will be an electric for the first few miles an hour before the gas engine starts. At launch, the engine lineup will include a 3.0-liter gas V-6. A 12-cylinder gas engine will follow at a later date. Two types of diesel are planned for markets outside the U.S., a 3.0-liter V-6, and an eight-cylinder.
The revised A8 line will include a plug-in hybrid. Mated to the 3.0-liter V-6 gas engine, the hybrid system enables all-electric driving for 31 miles (50 km). The plug-in hybrid will be available later on, Audi said. There were no further details.
Four-wheel steering system tightens things up
Another significant feature that will enhance handling and stability is the A8’s four-wheel steering system. A capable system, it gives the A8 a turning circle that’s smaller than the A4’s. The A4 is a smaller vehicle.
The A8 development team could have merely gone for a few mild changes in this renewal. However, they chose to be more aggressive, giving the four-door lines that make it look more like a coupe than a sedan, said Marc Lichte, design chief at this week's unveiling. The slope of the backlight makes the restyled A8 appear as if it is a more cab-forward design. It looks as if the rear is pushing the car forward “like a classic motor yacht,” Lichte said. Even though the A8 sports the sloped rear window (backlight) and sloping roofline, there is 20mm more headroom in the rear.
To be built at Audi’s Neckarsulm, Germany, plant, A8 will be available in standard and long-wheelbase versions.
Source: Cars and Parts