Five tech-magical features of the new Audi A8



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Audi’s new A8 bristles with advanced tech, and here are its coolest new features

Valencia, Spain
It’s said that technology, sufficiently advanced, is almost the same thing as magic. In that case, the fourth-gen Audi A8 is possibly a little magical. 

The new Audi A8 has more than 40 different driver assist and safety systems, and is packed with techno-wonders from OLEDs, to laser lights, tonnes of computer processing power and enough sensors to give a jet fighter envy.

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The A8’s rear light ‘wake sequence’. If this isn’t Knight Rider-esque I don’t know what is

But all that means little if it doesn’t add anything to a driver’s life, so we picked out the coolest highlights from the A8’s tech-smorgasboard.

1. You can be David Hasselhoff…
….as he is in Knight Rider*, that is, by pressing this button: 

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As we reported earlier this year, the A8 is the first production car to boast Level 3 autonomous driving, through the Audi AI Traffic Jam Assist function. There are many conditions to be met – the car needs to be on a highway of at least two lanes, with traffic in front and there has to be a hard barrier on one side. But once those things are in place, the driver can engage the system, take their hands off the wheel and do other things.

AI Sensor diagram

The Kitt fantasies don’t stop there, as Audi also says the advanced speech recognition is more ‘conversational’, understanding phrases like ‘I’m hot’ or ‘Take me home’ with the correct response.

Is it revolutionary? Not quite, since many cars can do the same thing – you just need to leave your hands on the wheel and pay attention. A small step it may be, but it’s still an important signpost on the road towards fully autonomous driving.

*Bizarre acting, 1980s hairstyle and fashion not included, neither is cult popularity in Germany.

2. AI helps to solve everyday chores
What we think is more important is the fact that the bones of the new ‘AI’ system let the car do a lot more to help you too. Driving a huge luxury limousine around can be challenging, but now that the car has even more extensive sensors and a bigger ‘brain’ (the A8 has more assistive processing power than all its predecessors combined) it can do a whole lot more.

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For example, it can self-park with more accuracy and quickness, you can also let the car park itself head-on into a lot from quite a distance away, controlling it from outside the car with an app. There’s also a system that stops you from hitting things – like poles or barriers – while maneuvering at low speed, and even another system that delays door opening if it detects a cyclist approaching from the rear.

3. It lets you get out and look – without getting out. 

360-degree view cameras and zoomable all-round views are now quite widespread amongst many cars. The latest BMW 7 Series also has a trick where you can see a virtual model of car from the ‘blind spot’, allowing for easy parallel parking.

The A8 one-ups that by delivering a full 3D render of the car – it even shows steering deflection and brake lights.

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This is the 3D display shown on the interior screen – notice the wheel deflection… 

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…and this is what the car looks like from the outside, almost exactly the same.  

Basically, it’s an external view of the car without having to step out of it, and will make parking easier than ever before. Impressive? Yes. Overkill? Perhaps, but that’s entirely expected of flagship limos like this.

4. It brings a new standard to magic-carpet-level ride quality 

The A8 has two major improvements for handling and ride quality. Four-wheel steering makes its debut on the A8, it works like most other systems and gives the car a turning circle smaller than that of an A4. The second is more exciting, what Audi terms ‘AI Suspension’.

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It uses four motors that act directly on each wheel, raising or lowering the wheel much more quickly than the air suspension can. It reacts to road conditions constantly, smoothing out the ride and reducing roll and pitch.

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You can actually see the AI Suspension compensating the front wheel ride height as it goes over the hump here

We tested it on the V8 and found it a must-have option. It can even predict large obstacles, like speed humps, and adjust the suspension on-the-fly so it feels like you’ve gone over nothing at all. It’s very, very impressive, and outdoes even the best, most-expensive cars when it comes to reigning in the rough stuff. More importantly, it’ll help a driver be free of the bane of road humps that infest Singapore in plague proportions.

about the author

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Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.