Audi’s next-generation A8 will take the stage in 2017, the carmaker confirmed at its annual press conference this week.
As expected, the new A8 will be among the first of Audi’s new models to wear styling inspired by the recent Prologue concepts, boasting a broad new grille, longer headlines and a wide muscular body.
The model could also prove to be Audi’s most important in years, with a new autonomous driving system set to make its production debut in the big new limo.
The system, based on the technology previewed with the recent A7 and RS 7 ‘Piloted Driving’ concepts, will offer limited autonomous driving in certain situations.
The technology will be split into separate functions in the production A8, including Traffic Jam Pilot and Parking Pilot.
Traffic Jam Pilot will operate at speeds of up to 60 to 80km/h, with the ability to over longitudinal and lateral control as needed.
The system will use a collection of 3D cameras, radar, and infrared sensors to monitor the surrounding traffic.
“This is how we generate a precise picture of the traffic situation. We therefore create a stable, redundant system that masters all situations in road traffic,” Audi chief engineer Ulrich Hackenberg said.
The new A8 will also offer Piloted Parking, which, Audi says, will allow the driver to avoid not only the chore of parking their vehicle, but also the potential anxiety of being inside a car that is parking itself.
Instead, the system will park the vehicle on its own while the driver stands clear.
Audi is not alone in developing these ‘phase one’ autonomous driving systems, nor is it the only brand targeting a 2017 launch.
Volvo has confirmed it too is planning a self-driving system for the 2017 model year, and GM is known to be planning a 2017 launch for similar technology in Cadillac models.
Industry upstart Tesla has also put a similar system into production already, with the 2015 Model S offering autonomous lane changing - with more to come.
"A Tesla car next year will probably be 90 percent capable of auto pilot. So 90 percent of your miles could be on auto. For sure, highway travel,” Musk told CNN Money recently.