Audi Previews Level 4 Autonomy with Elaine

Heading into Frankfurt, Audi promised three self-driving cars previewing three levels of autonomy. The first we’d already seen: the Audi A8 ready for level 3 autonomous driving. The second, a completely autonomous lounge-on-wheels, premiered earlier today at the Volkswagen Group preview night. And now we have a preview of the third, a model called Elaine that splits the difference.

Based on the Audi e-Tron Sportback concept, Elaine features an autonomous system ready for level 4 autonomous driving.

Based largely on the A8’s self-driving tech, the new concept can take over driving duties at speeds of up to 80 mph (as opposed to the A8’s limit of just 37 mph). With that, Elaine can take over driving duties for a full highway trip, changing lanes on its own.

Once you’re off the highway and at your destination, you’ll even be able to get out of the car and let it park itself. This function depends on the car being in an Audi AI Zone, but Audi sees this as crucially important, so chances are you’ll find one.

Since Elaine is based on the e-Tron Sportback, it’s completely electric. By letting the car park itself, it can also find its own charging port independently, taking the stress of charging it away from the owner. Moreover, if you want the car to be cleaned or serviced, it will also be able to drive itself to the car wash or the dealer, and then back to you.

And the car will learn from your habits. With PIA (Personal Intelligent Assistant) the car will figure out what you like it to do, and do it itself. Like to clean your car on Sundays? Elaine will eventually do that without having to be told. By learning what each driver prefers, it will be able not only to prepare its seats for multiple drivers, it can also have the music, air-con, and more ready for them.

But it’s not just passengers Elaine wants to have a relationship with. Thanks to LED lighting outside, the car will communicate with other drivers to signal its intentions and ensure safety for the occupants.

Eventually, Audi predicts that the steering wheel and driver controls will be done away with completely and is showing its vision of what that might look like with the level 5 autonomous Aicon, about which you can read more here.

[source: Slashgear]

This article first appeared on Quattroworld