Ok, I am going to warn you now: this is going to be a long post. Why? Because Audi just dropped a metric ton (see what I did there? German? Metric system? No? Ok moving on..) of new tech, concepts, and sneak peaks at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today.
First of all lets start with what has the car nuts drooling in their computer chairs. While highlighting their new infotainment display Audi has also graced the world with a glimpse of what the next Audi TT interior will look like. Astute observers will notice the stick shift lever between the seats which confirms that a full manual option will be available! This is great news for those who feared the next TT would be a strictly “F1 inspired” mass of tech and “flappy paddle” shifting. While I personally have nothing against paddle or sequential shifters, it does add something to the driving experience to be able to row through the gears. While the transmission Easter egg was cool the real point of showing off the interior is to highlight the new MMI “multi media interface” display which will be available on the new TT. The display allows for integration of navigation, entertainment, and the controls for other systems such as the AC all in one screen which replaces the main gauge cluster. This also means that all the important gauges: MPH, RPMs, temp, etc will be completely digital as well. Everything that the driver needs to know will be displayed on a 12.3 inch TFT monitor. Now for those who are worried about having all that info in their faces, the great thing about the all digital gauge cluster is that it is completely customizable, as in it can be changed to suit visual preferences. If a driver just wants the see the basic needle style gauges then they can have that! Everything can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel or with a set up on the center console. Audi promises the controls will be easy to use and intuitive but we will just have to wait and see how well it all works out when the TT is released. For some pics of the new TT interior and new digital gauge cluster just click the thumbnails above this paragraph.
Next I want to talk a little bit about Audi’s “Active Saftey” technology suite. Audi calls it “Active Safety” but really its a collection of autonomous driving features, each increasingly more awesome than the last. Naturally, “stop and go” adaptive cruise control (ACC) comes to the party but Audi has taken it up a few notches by increasing the distance that the radar can detect objects from 820 feet away. It can bring the car to a full stop, and then proceed, on its own! The new ACC also works with other systems in the car such as Navigation, for example if the driving is approaching a scheduled turn it will adjust the speed accordingly. The system also uses “Active Lane Assist” which essentially keeps drivers in their lane by using cameras to detect markings on the asphalt and then adjusts steering automatically if the driver begins to veer out of it without the turn signal on. Audi has also brought their Parking Assist feature to a new level by using ultrasound sensors to detect the curb and other objects around a parking space to help line itself up to park and there are also 4 cameras for a “surround view” so that when parking manually drivers can literally see everything around them. This is definitely helpful for those who still have problems with parallel parking. Although out of all the Active Safety Systems I think my favorite is the traffic sign recognition. Yes, you read correctly, it can read traffic signs! Not only does it read signs but it will give the driver a heads up or adjust the speed automatically for you if you want it to once it reads the posted speed limits. It also cross references where the driver is via GPS and the local traffic laws for that area and provide notifications incase the driver may be doing something that would get them in hot water. Yes, these features lean a bit on the “Skynet” side but the fact that the tech has come this far is pretty cool. To see how some of the Active Saftey tech works just watch the video above.
Finally, we get to one of the coolest/craziest things Audi brought to CES: The Audi Sport Quattro Laserlight concept car. This is the next iteration of the highly sought after Quattro concept but with one very notable addition. I will focus on the concept as a whole in a later post but for now I want to talk about this “addition”. Audi has been leading the way with headlight tech since they began their push on LED headlights. Well, now they are going beyond that with lasers. Yes, freakin’ lasers. The low beams on the Quattro Laserlight concept are still high output LEDs but the high beams are now laser beams! Despite the laser diodes being only a few microns in diameter they can light the road ahead at a distance over 1,600 feet! That is three times the power of LED headlights. Audi has also stated that they will test their laser light tech on the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro race car this year. That should make for some interesting endurance races! Hit the thumbnails above for some detailed looks at the laser light tech and stay tuned for another post about the laser light concept car specifically.
Just in case you didn’t get a chance to tune into the live stream keynote Audi held at the 2011 consumer electronics show last week we have a video below that briefly overviews everything that the German manufacturer showed off to throngs of technophiles. Heading up the demonstrations was Audi’s new MMI (Multimedia Interface) system. Right now it’s mostly a concept but the general idea is to user programable instrument clusters which would display any combination of info that the driver desires. Another concept was the “MIS” or the “Multimedia Infotainment System”. This would essentially be a multimedia interface that users can customize for different media experiences. It also looks like they are setting this system up to accept “apps” such as Pandora and Twitter.
They also mentoned future internet connectivity of their upcoming models via new highspeed LTE broadband. They mentioned things such as all of your media and content being accessible in the vechicle via cloud computing which would eliminate the need for a physical drive in the car. Sounds like a pretty cool idea! However, I’d have to say my favorite piece of tech that Audi showed off was their augmented reality heads up dashboard display! It was soooo Tony Stark! Check it all out in action in the video below. You can also read the official Audi 2011 CES press release as well.
Audi at CES: Connectivity Leader of the Digital Revolution in the Automobile
– Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler delivers keynote address at the world’s largest tradeshow for consumer electronics in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, Nev., Jan 6, 2011 – Audi is hard at work on electronics systems for the automotive world of tomorrow: At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place January 6–9, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Brand with the Four Rings is setting off a veritable fireworks display of innovative ideas. The broad spectrum encompasses infotainment as well as driver assistance systems for improving traffic safety and efficiency. In his keynote speech delivered at the opening of the tradeshow, Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, outlined his vision for future developments by the brand.
Audi will continue to expand its leadership role – its engineers are hard at work developing the technologies of tomorrow. A major area of activity is total control systems. These include the next- and next-but-one-generation MMI concepts, freely programmable instrument clusters and attractive advances in the head-up display, for instance.
Audi has created a new hardware platform – the Modular Infotainment System (MIS) – and a joint venture company called e.solutions GmbH is developing custom software packages for it. In his keynote speech, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler stated: “Our plan is to integrate the best technologies from the best partners available and adapt these for the automotive world. And we intend to pick up the pace of innovation even further.”
Already today the new model lines from Audi stand out for the intelligent connection of their electronic systems. In the future, the Brand with the Four Rings plans to also fully connect its cars with the outside world – with the Internet, with the traffic infrastructure and with other vehicles.
An Audi “connected car” would require virtually no local data backup within the vehicle; it would pull all its information – from music to navigation – from servers on the Internet via UMTS and, coming soon, via LTE. In this way, it would become a part of the data world of tomorrow.
One result of this new connectivity might even be autonomous driving. Using new cameras and Car-to-X communication, an Audi of the future could move autonomously when the driver wants it to, in stop-and-go traffic, for instance.
These new infotainment solutions will be especially fascinating when combined with electric and hybrid drives. Audi is working intensely to develop new, innovative concepts in this field of technology as well. To showcase its expertise here, Audi is exhibiting its plug-in hybrid concept car, the Audi e-tron Spyder, in Las Vegas.
The new, multifaceted approach to electronics development at Audi encompasses the areas of operation and display technology and the architecture of the infotainment modules alike, and integrates new hardware and software solutions. For many of its projects, Audi has an excellent partner to rely on – chip specialist NVIDIA.
“German engineering meets Silicon Valley” defines the partnership that Audi has maintained with NVIDIA Corporation for a number of years. The electronics company based in Santa Clara, California, provides graphics processors for many of Audi’s model lines, placing Audi well ahead of the competition in the area of infotainment. Innovations such as the world’s first integration of Google Earth navigation and the elegant graphics in the A8, A7 and the new A6 were made possible through the use of NVIDIA technology.
During the first day of 2011 CES OnStar announced that they will be extending their services to “most top-selling vehicles from major manufacturers.” We aren’t sure exactly what that means yet or how far back the compatibility list will go but chances are if you bought a car within the last year or two your ride will probably be eligible. Just like on GM vehicles the actual OnStar unit will be totally contained in a rear view mirror. The OnStar add-on unitwill run $299 and Best Buy will have their “Geek Squad” install it for you for $75-$100. From there you just need to pick a service plan (the cheapest of which is $18.99 a month or $199 a year) and you’re all set to get all the same OnStar perks that GM owners have been getting for years. If you’re interested in picking one up then just check out Best Buy this spring.
Las Vegas, Jan. 4, 2011– OnStar today announced that it is responding to repeated consumer requests by offering its industry leading safety, security and connectivity services for non-GM and older GM vehicles already on the road. A standalone rearview mirror packing all of OnStar’s core technology will be available this spring through consumer electronics retailers, and is compatible with most top-selling vehicles from major manufacturers.
The OnStar retail product offers the key features that have made OnStar’s “blue button” an icon, including Automatic Crash Response, Turn-by-Turn Navigation, Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, one-button access to emergency and roadside services, and hands-free calling, including Bluetooth connectivity.
“For years, thousands of drivers have asked us to get OnStar in vehicles that didn’t feature it as standard,” said Chris Preuss, OnStar president. “With the retail product that we’ve introduced today they certainly can. This move in to the consumer electronics space represents the biggest development in our business model since introducing OnStar as standard across all GM products several years ago. It represents a quantum leap forward in our plans to grow our business and provide a strong new revenue base for GM and OnStar from which we can further develop our core offerings in the factory-equipped market.”
OnStar will offer the mirror in the United States through Best Buy, its first strategic retail partner, beginning in spring 2011. The product will also be available through other selected consumer electronics retailers. The mirror will be priced at $299, plus installation (expected to cost between $75 and $100). A range of service plans will be available, starting at $18.95 a month or $199 a year.
“We’re proud to be OnStar’s first strategic retail partner for this innovative offering, which is one more way Best Buy can help our customers stay connected whenever and wherever they want,” said Lisa Farrell, senior vice president and general manager portable electronics customer solutions group at Best Buy. “We provide a one-stop solution for consumers. In addition to purchasing the device at Best Buy, we offer our customers the convenience of having it installed by our Geek Squad Auto Techs – all at one location.”
Ingram Micro will serve as the key distributor of this product and is the main contact for interested retail outlets.
Currently, the OnStar mirror is certified to work on 99 percent of the top 20 selling non-GM vehicles over the last 10 years, or approximately 55 million cars and trucks. OnStar expects to certify additional models in the months ahead.
Key features of the OnStar mirror include:
· Automatic Crash Response. An accelerometer built into OnStar the mirror detects the sudden shock of an impact from the front, side, or rear of the vehicle and automatically calls an OnStar advisor. If the driver doesn’t respond, or responds to say there has been a crash, an OnStar advisor will direct emergency responders to the exact GPS location of the vehicle.
· Link to Emergency Services. By pressing OnStar’s red emergency button, drivers are immediately connected to a specially trained emergency advisor for assistance in situations occurring inside or outside of their vehicle.
· Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance. If the vehicle is reported stolen to local law enforcement, OnStar subscribers can call 1-888-4-OnStar (1-888-466-7827) from any phone. OnStar advisors, available 24/7, can attempt to locate the vehicle through the mirror’s internal GPS and provide the location to law enforcement.
· Turn-by-Turn Navigation. With OnStar’s most popular service, drivers can press OnStar’s blue button and ask OnStar advisors for directions to a specific location or ask the advisor to find a point of interest such as a gas station or nearby restaurant. The directions are then downloaded to the OnStar system, which provides spoken turn-by-turn directions for reaching the destination.
· Roadside Assistance. In non-emergency situations, drivers can push the blue button or call 1-888-4-ONSTAR for help with problems such as keys locked in the vehicle, a flat tire, or running out of gas.
· Hands-Free Calling. OnStar allows drivers to make hands-free, voice-activated calls either through a Bluetooth connection to the driver’s mobile phone or through prepaid packages of minutes purchased through OnStar.
All these services are available directly through the OnStar mirror, without requiring the driver to bring along a mobile phone or even own a mobile phone. In the event of an accident, emergency services are alerted even if there is no mobile phone in the vehicle, the phone is damaged in a crash or the driver is unable to use a phone.
OnStar is now in its ninth generation of technology. The first-generation OnStar product in 1996 was comprised of 38 individual components and could take up to four days to install. Now all of the technology required to deliver the OnStar experience fits inside a rearview mirror weighing only 23 ounces, and professional installation is expected to take less than an hour. This requires removing the vehicle’s current rearview mirror, replacing it with the OnStar product and running an electric power source to the new mirror.
For more information on OnStar’s innovation, the new OnStar mirror and a list of the compatible vehicles at launch, visit www.onstar.com.
Word came from Germany today that Audi will have a keynote adress during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. They didn’t give any details as to what they would be speaking about however in the press email they did include a picture of the E-Tron Spyder. The only way to know what the conference is really about is to watch the live stream online or on your iPhone/iPad with the Audi Media app. In case you don’t either of the mentioned devices we’ll embed the live stream right here for your viewing pleasure on Thursday (Jan 6th) at 8pm central time. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Looks like we got turned around by the European press release! CET is European time not central! The video stream will go live at 11 AM US Pacific time. We will post the stream just a few minutes before that so you wont accidentally miss the begining.
So remember, if you want to see the Keynote live via the stream tune into MotorworldHype.com at 11 AM US/Pacific time
This is close to the top of my “absolutely ridiculous yet awesome things that I want but will probably never have” list. You’re looking at the Cruden Motorsport simulator. It has hydraulic actuators, super fast processing, high def screens, and a price tag higher than Snoop Dogg flying a kite on 4/20. For a scant $191,000 you can have this in your home. If I had one of these in my house I’d charge people just to watch me use it. But that’s just me.. Check out some video of the Cruden Simulator in action at CES 2010 below.