Autonomous cars and awesome new lighting technology are the highlights of Audi's display at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
This year's CES is in full swing over in Las Vegas, and while it's generally aimed at the electronics and gadgets industry, carmakers such as Audi use the event to showcase their latest technology. This year Audi is focusing on autonomous cars, connectivity and lighting. With regards the former, Audi plans to roll out cars with an increasing amount of autonomous capability. Its new "piloted driving" system enables a car to independently move at speeds up to 37 mph, using radar and camera systems, and park without the driver in the car.
Once parked, the car shuts down, deactivates the ignition, locks the doors and sends confirmation to the driver's smartphone or key fob. Audi claims the launch of its piloted driver system is feasible by the end of the decade.
The latest iteration of the Audi connect system indicates how the car maker plans to expand its range of connectivity services in the future. Currently, drivers have the benefit of services like navigation with Google Maps Street View, online traffic information and social networks. In the pipeline is access to the internet via high-speed LTE networks and Car-2-Car communication. Networked cars will alert each other to hazards such as cross-traffic at intersections and icy roads. Audi is also looking into customizable operating and display concepts, and expanding its modular infotainment systems offered in overseas models.
The main focus of the lighting department is OLEDs (organic LED) and laser lights - first announced by BMW to launch in the i8 electric sportscar next year. Audi's innovative use of the new tech includes the Matrix Beam, which is made up of numerous individual diodes that are fed info from a camera, sat-nav and additional sensors. Part of the light beam can highlight objects on the road or go dim to stop blinding oncoming drivers. Audi is also working on laser tail-lights that will give drivers behind a clear signal from a laser diode. The fan-shaped laser taillight also projects a red line on the road in good visibility to ensure drivers behind keep their distance.
And in fog or spray, the laser beam lights up the water droplets into a triangular shape similar to a large warning triangle. Audi's plans for OLED technology extend to external light design, which will react to the approaching driver and follow their movements, highlighting the contours of the vehicle and door handle. Using OLEDs on the rear, Audi's "Swarm" system could also be implemented whereby lights follow a chosen path. So when the driver makes a right turn, the lights sweep to the right; when he brakes, they flow forwards; and the faster the driver goes, the quicker they move. The driver behind then knows instantly what the driver in front is doing.