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Jack goes public: Next-gen Audi A8 to equip autonomous capability from A7 prototype

Over the course of the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we’ve seen a lot of cool gadgets.

Connected cars, 4K OLED TVs, and even voice-activated ovens have flooded the exhibit halls of Las Vegas this year, as well as everything from breakthroughs in gaming to potentially life-changing wearables.

One of Audi’s debuts, however, has the potential to be even more metamorphic. No, the automaker’s self-driving A7 prototype isn’t a toy or a lifestyle piece; it’s something that could change the way we move entirely.

Audi even gave the car a name: Jack.

Jack (pictured) completed a 550-mile journey through California before CES even began, with many of those being self-driven.

The car isn’t fully autonomous, as media drivers and Audi reps were present in the vehicle the entire time. It simply isn’t equipped to navigate in certain unmapped conditions, such as heavy traffic.

The car can cruise along unfrequented freeways completely own its own, though, with adaptive cruise control and a 3D video camera constantly mapping the road.

At a CES press conference on January 6th, Audi Board Member for Technical Development Ulrich Hackenberg revealed that the next-generation A8 would feature the same level of autonomy that was demonstrated by the A7, and will likely arrive within two years. 

Related: Audi’s self-driving A7 prototype completes its journey to CES

What this means is that Audi is rapidly becoming one of the grand architects of the self-driving future. The upcoming Audi Q7 is slated to equip driverless solutions like ‘Predictive Efficiency Assistant’ that maps out the most economical routes, adaptive cruise control, and a traffic jam aid that can speed, slow, and steer the car at speeds below 37.3 mph.

In October, the automaker flaunted its autonomous RS 7 concept by letting it complete a hot lap of Germany’s Hockenheimring racetrack sans-driver.

The brand also showcased its self-driving chops at CES with the Prologue piloted driving concept.

Every year, more of these technologies will start showing up in Audi’s production vehicles, with the cars becoming smarter, more adaptive, and more capable.

So while the future might not be now, it is most definitely soon.