20 Jul 2020
How will we be going about a city like Singapore in the future? Imagine gliding along the PIE in your Audi while you sit round a table sharing a relaxing dinner with the family. This is the kind of user experience Audi is exploring with the visionary mobility concept: the Audi AI:ME. In a self-driving vehicle like this, “going out for a meal” suddenly takes on a fresh new meaning. Everything about its radical design is helping to forecast what we’ll need from an urban car in the coming years.
While all-electric power will be a given, the AI:ME concept goes a step further by allowing the car to drive autonomously at level 4. Although self-driving systems with level 4 do not require any assistance on the part of the driver, their function is limited to a specific area—such as expressways or a specially equipped area in the CBD. In these places, the driver can completely transfer the task of driving to the system. The driver needs to resume the task only when the car leaves the area defined for fully automated driving, hence the Audi AI:ME retains a steering wheel and pedal controls.
So if we’re not doing very much actual driving, how will we spend our time on board? In Audi’s vision of the future, the car is increasingly becoming a “third living space” alongside our homes and workplaces. Like an apartment, the interior design is now more focused on providing the most comfortable environment for leisure time, an oasis of calm where you can enjoy a meal, watch a movie or chat with friends online.
The wedge-shaped Audi AI:ME is similar in length and width to a present-day compact car, however the wheelbase of 2.77 metres and height of 1.52 metres offers interior spaciousness usually found in the next higher class at least. This is made possible by the architecture of the electric drive, with the drive unit positioned on the rear axle. The result is a compact car with airy comfort and a wide variety of configurations for seat positions and stowage space.
Comfort and functionality come together beautifully in the AI:ME, with seats that swivel like luxurious armchairs and handy side tables featuring magnetic coffee cups that can’t slide off. Communication and interaction systems are operated by means of eye tracking, voice input, and touch-sensitive fields in the door rail integrated into the surface to make them invisible. The interior is also monitored to maintain passengers’ well-being, with systems designed to help reduce stress levels. Audi AI:ME identifies the passengers’ preferences in terms of climate control and interior lighting, and also offers suggestions for ideal route guidance. You can just switch off and leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind – the AI:ME makes it possible.
The AI:ME is first and foremost a city car. In dense urban areas you won’t need extreme acceleration or high cornering speeds – in fact, the AI:ME will drive predominantly in the speed range between 20-70 km/h. Long range is less relevant than the ability to remain mobile for hours at a time without charging. Audi engineers therefore drew on a comparatively simple, yet light, basic configuration. A battery unit with a storage capacity of 65 kilowatt hours is sufficient for meeting these requirements. A motor that can mobilize 125 kW if necessary operates in the area of the rear axle. A fraction of this is usually sufficient for keeping up with the flow of city traffic. Thanks to brake energy recuperation and its comparatively low weight, the Audi AI:ME exhibits extremely low energy consumption even in city traffic.
The Audi AI:ME is part of the family of concept cars that was launched in 2017. Each of the four vision vehicles with electric drive is tailored specially to its clearly defined area of use: The Audi AI:CON for long-distance driving, the AI:RACE for the race track, and the AI:TRAIL for all-terrain driving.