With the four-door design vision Audi Aicon, the brand with the four rings is presenting a autonomous Audi of the future – with no steering wheel or pedals.

As a design concept, the four-door 2+2 boldly leaps ahead to show the exterior and interior design of the next decades. The technology demonstrator combines innovations relating to the drivetrain, suspension, digitalization and sustainability in a visionary manner. The Aicon, too, is designed for purely electric operation and should be able to cover distances between 700 and 800 kilometers (435.0 – 497.1 mi) on a single charge.

Autonomous Luxury Sedan of the Future

As a mobility concept, the Audi Aicon shows the world of tomorrow, in which the advantages of door-to-door individual transportation are combined with the luxurious ambiance of a firstclass airline cabin. A cabin with no steering wheel or pedals that can thus offer all the comforts of modern communications electronics and perfect ergonomics – simply first-class. One look is all it takes: In contrast to a robot taxi, which is reduced to pure functionality, the autonomous Audi Aicon concept vehicle pulls out all the stops. Its presence is impossible to ignore, and its exterior hints at the spacious comfort afforded the passengers and the upscale technical aspirations. The Audi Aicon is a sneak peak at a prestigious automobile of tomorrow that stirs the desires of demanding customers.

The Audi Aicon looks spectacular from any angle. Its sheer size – an exterior length of
5,444 millimeters (17.9 ft), a width of 2,100 millimeters (6.9 ft) and a height of
1,506 millimeters (4.9 ft) – places it in the automotive top tier, the D segment. The wheelbase measures 3,470 millimeters (11.4 ft). That’s 240 millimeters (9.4 in) more than with the long version of the new Audi A8.

The central element of the exterior is the cabin. Large glass surfaces at the front and rear as well as the significantly convex side windows create a bright expanse of space for the travelers. A distinct edge runs as a hard line along the side window surfaces of the Aicon back to the D-pillar – a first in automotive design. This line emphasizes the car’s length and effectively reduces the apparent volume of the cabin relative to the overall body. The darkened side sills rise subtly toward the rear, making it seem like the car is ducking.

The strongly flared wheel wells emphasize Audi’s quattro DNA while simultaneously building a bridge to the latest production creations from the Audi designers. Giant 26-inch wheels are placed as far outward as possible. They underscore the car’s impressive presence.

Intelligent Design

The designers reduced the front and rear ends to a minimum of lines and focused on large, uninterrupted surfaces. As with the Audi e-tron Sportback concept, the Aicon front features the inverted hexagonal Singleframe, a typical feature of the upcoming generation of electric cars from Audi. The sharply inclined silhouette of the entire front end evokes a sense of forging ahead – this, too, is a typical sports car body line.

The Audi Aicon supports its surroundings intelligently and uses animations on its display surfaces to warn pedestrians or cyclists of dangerous situations. Driving modes such as platooning, urban driving or driving at a walking pace can be visualized.  Horizontal stripes of light move from the bottom up when the car accelerates and in the opposite direction during braking. Their speed increases or decreases in sync with that of the car.

Future cars will expand their sphere of communication to the surroundings. The Audi Aicon uses projector modules to illuminate the road and surroundings in high resolution and project signals onto the ground. This enables it to communicate warnings and vehicle information to passers-by with no direct line of sight to the car.

Lighting Your Way

One thing that an autonomously driving vehicle of the future definitely won’t need anymore are long-range headlights. The Audi Aicon’s laser and radar sensor system also “sees” enough even in the dark, can reliably find the way and detects possible obstacles in good time. All this time the passengers can use the services provided by myAudi or even close their eyes for a while. When passengers exit the Audi Aicon in the dark, a “light companion” is activated: A mini-drone with a flashlight safely illuminates the user’s walking path.

Open and Spacious Interior and a Personalized Experience

The interior quickly comes to life once passengers enter. Illuminated lines of LEDs set colorful accents in the area of the doors. The front display lights up with a welcome message. PIA, the empathetic electronic vehicle assistant, recognizes the passenger by his phone and activates all of his personal settings. There are custom settings for the air conditioning and seating position, interior light color and the layout of the infotainment system. The navigation system awaits entry of a destination, and all accessible channels of communication are ready for use, connected via the fastest available standard.

The Audi Aicon features opposed doors that open to the front and rear. There is no B-pillar. The entire breadth of the interior is thus exposed to the passengers as they get in the car. In the interior, the lines of the decorative surfaces and functional elements are markedly horizontal. Becoming lighter from bottom to top, the interior reinforces the impression of unique spaciousness, and the lack of a steering wheel and a classic dashboard creates a sense of openness and expanse.

This is underscored by the large glass surfaces, the transparent roof and the low waist line. Not to mention the special geometry of the side windows. Their top half angles distinctly outward, so that the maximum width is at eye height.

The interior appears to be particularly wide when the two individual front seats are slid all the way back. The Audi Aicon is a 2+2-seater. An upholstered, two-seat bench is integrated into the rear panel. The two front seats are designed for maximum comfort and optimal spaciousness. Passengers can slide them up to 500 millimeters (19.7 in) back and forth between the forward and rear positions. The seats don’t slide on rails, but rather on a platform covered in high-pile carpet that can be moved longitudinally, and on which the passengers’ feet also rest. The platform height is variable, so that it can also be used as an ottoman for your legs. The pitch of the seat cushions and backrests can be steplessly adjusted for a comfortable working or resting position.

The individual seats can also be swiveled by up to 15 degrees. Turning the seats outward makes it even easier for the passengers to get in. Turning them inward makes it easier for the passengers to talk and interact. If the passengers turn around, the head restraints fold back like a collar and become an arm rest.

The architecture of the seats is the automotive reinterpretation of a classic piece of furniture, the lounge chair. The seat cushion and backrest are visually separated from one another. Two outer shells support the light-colored, pillow-like upholstery elements with a square-quilted surface. The side bolsters of the backrest are subtly angled to provide sufficient support in curves.

There is also plenty of space in the Audi Aicon long-distance vehicle for luggage, of course. Thanks to the space-saving design of the electric drive, there is a storage compartment at both the front and the rear of the vehicle with a combined capacity of roughly 660 liters (23.3 cu ft). The Aicon also offers numerous storage options in the passenger compartment.

Optimized for the Long Haul

The very shape of the Audi Aicon reveals that it is a car from another world, an automobile of the future. The technology used in the concept vehicle has also been systematically designed for this world. It presumes a transportation infrastructure in which autonomously driving automobiles are a given on every street. Road users are connected to one another and their surroundings.

This also means that traffic will be less hectic and flow more smoothly in the future than is imaginable today. Even at moderate speed limits, long distances can be covered at a high constant speed of around 130 km/j (80.8 mph). Passengers experience the journey as comfortable cruising without constant braking and accelerating.

Accidents will also be a thing of the past thanks to the highly advanced sensor systems and networking. Passengers in an automobile like the Audi Aicon will therefore no longer need classic restraint systems. They will also experience a physical sense of freedom during their journey that in 2017 still appears visionary.

Drivetrain and Suspension

The drive and the total vehicle have also been optimally adapted to this new world of mobility. A highly efficient electric drive provides for the dynamics of the Audi Aicon. A total of four electric motors are located in the area of the front and rear axles. The energy storage units are integrated into the area below the floor. These are solid body batteries with considerably more energy capacity than lithium-ion batteries.

As a true quattro, the Audi Aicon offers ample performance and even autonomously always reaches its destination safely regardless of the weather or road surface. The suspension is designed for maximum comfort. Pneumatic spring and damper units smooth out any road surface irregularities. And electric actuators at all four wheels actively counteract any body lean, whether when cornering, accelerating or braking. As a fully active suspension system, it also optimizes the qualities of the adaptive air suspension. The Audi Aicon literally glides over even large potholes.

The axle and drive units in the Audi Aicon are symmetrical, i.e. identical at the front and rear. Mechanical components, such as the steering shaft or steering hydraulics, have been eliminated. The car is therefore equipped with a complete all-wheel steering system without compromising the available space and thus the passenger compartment. A positive effect for the practical qualities of the Audi Aicon: Despite its long wheelbase of nearly 3.47 meters (11.4 ft), the car is extremely agile due to its two steerable axles – the turning radius of only 8.50 meters (27.9 ft) is below that of a small car thus making the Audi Aicon suitable for city center driving.

Designed with Maximum Comfort, Technology and Freedom in Mind

The Audi Aicon is an all-arounder well prepared for its primary task: to offer a maximum of comfort, communications technology and freedom for its occupants during a long journey. It combines the scopes for autonomous driving in an urban environment and on the highway with an unprecedented range for an electric drive. The Aicon will be followed by further multitalented Audi models, each with their own specialized discipline, ensuring that the vehicle range of the brand with the four rings remains as diverse as it is fascinating.

 

EAT LOVE SAVOR magazine
Author

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