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.

Cars

Don’t let the SUV bodies fool you, BMW’s X3 M and X4 M are bona fide M cars

BMW is launching the first M versions of its X3 and X4. The 2020 X3 M and X4 M Competition pack a new 503-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six and BMW’s usual array of performance tech.
Cars

Horsepower, tech, or cubic feet? Have all three in the BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe

BMW expanded the second-generation 8 Series lineup with a four-door model named Gran Coupe. Developed to replace the 6 Series Gran Coupe, the 8 Series offers the same six- and eight-cylinder engines in a more spacious package.
Cars

Fisker wants to make sure Tesla’s Model Y isn’t in a class of one when it lands

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.
Cars

Florida allows autonomous cars to drive on its roads without human supervision

Florida governor Ron DeSantis passed a law that establishes a legal framework for self-driving cars to operate within the state. It allows car and tech companies to test self-driving cars without a human operator behind the wheel.
Cars

Could a high-performance Nissan Leaf steal the mighty GT-R’s lunch money?

Nissan developed the electric Leaf with range and practicality in mind, but the hatchback could lend its hardware to a high-performance flagship. One of Nissan's chief executives announced a four-motor, 850-hp model could arrive during the…
Cars

Forget turrets. Hummer could fight its next war in the electric SUV segment

General Motors is considering resurrecting the Hummer brand it axed in 2010 to make electric off-roaders. The plan hasn't been approved yet, and it risks alienating some die-hard Hummer fans, but it makes sense on several levels.
Cars

All the haters are wrong: The new Acura NSX is just like the original NSX

Journalists and enthusiasts have bemoaned the new Acura NSX for not living up to the original car’s greatness. They say this new NSX’s engine is too small, that it’s too complicated, and that it lacks character. Here’s why they’re…
Cars

This futuristic driverless pod will soon be delivering pizza in Texas

Pizza delivery using driverless pods is about to become a thing. Domino's has partnered with autonomous-tech specialist Nuro to use the futuristic pods for a trial delivery service starting later this year.
Cars

Flat-six makes a brief but triumphant return in Porsche’s hot-rodded 718 duo

Porsche unveiled a pair of 718-based sports cars that brazenly buck the industry's downsizing trend. The 718 Cayman GT4 and the 718 Spyder ditch the turbocharged flat-four in favor of a naturally aspirated, 4.0-liter flat-six rated at 414…
Cars

Waymo at last fires up the self-driving smarts of the Jaguar I-Pace

A year after inking a deal with Jaguar to use its I-Pace crossover for its self-driving program, Waymo has started testing the electric vehicle in autonomous mode with a view to adding it to its driverless ridesharing service.
Cars

Dainese Smart Jacket vest airbag breaks new ground so you won’t get broken

Regardless of the type of motorcycle you ride, your body is in jeopardy when you travel. When you share the road with cars and trucks, personal protection is a concern, and Dainese just launched the Smart Jacket, a new airbag vest, to help.
News

Tesla hasn’t made a pickup, so YouTuber Simone Giertz made one out of a Model 3

There’s a new Tesla model in town (sort of). Sick of waiting for Tesla to release an electric pickup truck, YouTuber Simone Giertz decided to make her own — post a fake commercial for it on YouTube.
Cars

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 thunders into the muscle car ring with 760 hp

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 revives one of the greatest names in American muscle cars, and gives Ford some ammunition in the horsepower war with Chevy and Dodge. Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the GT500 boasts over 700 hp.
Cars

Volkswagen says no thanks to outsiders as it develops its own operating system

Volkswagen is taking software development into its own hands instead of joining forces with tech companies. It's assembling a team of more than 5,000 engineers to design an operating system that will equip in all of its cars by 2025.