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Thu., Jan. 10, 2013, 3:10 p.m.

Audi goes 3D and driverless @ CES


The age of self-driving cars is upon us but that’s not all Audi had up its sleeve at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. They also brought along an audio system that adds another dimension to the listening experience, 3D entertainment without the glasses and a valet system without the valet.  But before we go any further let’s get one thing straight about driverless terminology:

Don’tcall it autonomous.  Audi made it clear that even when the car is driving itself the driver is still fully responsible for what the car does.  The new politically/legally correct phrasing is:

Piloted Driving

…Ok. Set you’re stopwatches to see how long it takes for that one to wind up in court. 

Audi’s new piloted driving technology is primarily a mish-mash of existing technology such as lane departure assist, automated parking, adaptive cruise control, collision detection and some new technology such as traffic-sign recognition.  The piloted driving mode is planned for use in a ‘Traffic Jam Assist’ program that will take control of the car up to 37mph. 

During heavy traffic the driver hits a button and the car takes over to keep up with the tedious braking and accelerating while holding steady in a lane. If the driver interjects in any way, such as changing lanes or touching the pedals the system will deactivate.  The car will also monitor the traffic situation; if it recognizes the congestion has sufficiently cleared it will automatically deactivate.

In essence the traffic jam assist program isn’t much different than a low-speed adaptive cruise control although it could enjoy a great deal of popularity with the millions of commuters who spend a horrific number of hours each week locked in soul-pummeling gridlock.   

Driverless Parking

Besides slogging through rush hour looking for a parking spot in a packed parking garage or road could be the second most aneurysm-inspiring odyssey a motorist can endure.  Audi’s proposed solution is for drivers to get out of the car and tell it to park itself.

Once again the technology isn’t unlike current Park Assist technology where the driver controls throttle and braking while the car uses sensors to steer itself.  But there are no mincing words here; this really is an autonomous function as the driver isn’t in the car while it’s driving itself.  The car takes over the pedals as it does with adaptive cruise control and treks dutifully off to find a vacant spot on its own. 

Audi believes the driverless valet system could require underground parking garages to be equipped with WLAN to function properly.  Optimistically Audi says they could release the technology in a few years.

Watch an Audi park itself.

Glasses-free 3D rear seat entertainment screens

Audi passengers could soon be calling ‘rear seat’ versus shotgun to have their minds blown by 3D infotainment screens that don’t require dorky glasses.  The technology uses a pair of small cameras that monitor passengers’ eye positions and adjusts the image output for multiple passengers. 

3D Audio System

Yes, that’s a thing now too.  Audi co-developed a prototype system with Bang & Olufsen in a diesel Q7 crossover.  The 23-speaker, 1,400-watt system recreates three-dimensional sound.  Audi plans to debut it next year.



(1)    Autoweek

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