Skip to main content

The Audi AI:me concept shows how a self-driving city car can fight boredom

Audi is building head-turning concept cars to show the different facets of its ongoing electric car offensive. The E-Tron GT unveiled in late 2018 previews a battery-powered high-performance sedan. The Q4 E-Tron introduced at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show takes the form of a family-friendly, zero-emissions crossover. In April 2019, the German firm unveiled a third design study named AI:me that explores what a connected, autonomous city car powered by electricity could look like.

Short, wide, and tall, the AI:me shares only a hexagonal grille and sharp, swept-back headlights with current members of the Audi family. Designers pushed the wheels out as far as possible to give the model short overhangs and a wheelbase that’s unusually long for a compact car. These proportions clear up a generous amount of space for people and gear. While the AI:me’s upright silhouette is not rooted in Audi’s current model lineup, it’s slightly reminiscent of the A2 sold in Europe between 1999 and 2005. It also makes the concept look a lot less toaster-like than other autonomous city cars we’ve seen recently.

The AI:me boasts level four autonomous technology, meaning it doesn’t drive itself 100 percent of the time; it’s still fitted with a steering wheel, but drivers can push it into the dashboard when they want to become passengers. Touch-sensitive surfaces make a vast majority of the buttons and stalks commonly found inside a car obsolete, while a full-width, three-dimensional OLED display replaces both the instrument cluster and the screen that displays the infotainment system.

The AI:me ensures you won’t get bored even if you’re stuck in traffic. On-board virtual reality (VR) goggles let the passengers watch a movie, surf the internet, or play games. Audi previewed this feature when it collaborated with Disney to demonstrate Holoride at CES 2019. The concept’s infotainment system can be controlled via eye-tracking or voice-recognition technologies, and active noise control turns its interior into a peaceful haven from which users can work, or relax and listen to concert hall-quality music. The AI:me takes Audi’s tech-savvy interiors to a new level, but the use of natural materials (including walnut trim) prevents a complete, non-reversible tech overload. Its headliner doubles as a garden, too.

An electric motor mounted over the rear axle sends 170 horsepower to the rear wheels. It draws electricity from a 65-kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion battery pack positioned right under the passenger compartment. The company hasn’t released performance specifications, but it noted a car like the AI:me primarily operates between 12 and 44 mph. In other words: don’t expect Audi to send its latest concept to the Nürburgring.

The Audi AI:me concept made its debut at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show. The company’s choice of venue makes sense; China is precisely the kind of market in which the car — assuming it reaches production — would do well. What the future holds for the concept is up in the air at this point.

Updated April 15, 2019: Added full information about the Audi AI:me concept.

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
Lexus plugs in its electric car offensive with an innovative concept
lexus electric city car concept unveiled at 2019 tokyo auto show lf 30 electrified 1

Previous

Next

Read more
Nissan IMk concept can park itself, communicate using holograms
nissan imk concept electric car 2019 tokyo motor show

Previous

Next

Read more
Audi balances carsharing, EVs, and sports cars as it prepares for the 2020s
2019 frankfurt auto show highlights from audi hyundai land rover porsche dt aitrail concept

Audi introduced two completely different cars during the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show. Its go-fast Audi Sport division presented the second-generation RS 7, a 600-horsepower fastback powered by a sonorous V8 engine. The company also unveiled a highly futuristic design study named AI:Trail (pictured) that's fully electric, partially autonomous, and designed to be shared. Tying these two ends of the automotive spectrum together sounds impossible, but Audi is up to the challenge.

"Being able to play this bandwidth is the strength of Audi," board member Hildegard Wortmann said during a media roundtable Digital Trends attended on the sidelines of the show.

Read more