Audi looks into the future with 7 new technologies

The swarm OLEDs display an illuminated surface 01.03.2012
The swarm OLEDs display an illuminated surface 01.03.2012

Audi has published a booklet outlining seven future technologies, some of which are in an early development stage while others will appear on new models soon.

Audi's development engineers, who are collaborating with strategic partners, are working on these new technologies in the following areas:

Garage Parking Pilot involves a data exchange at the entrance of a parking facility where the garage control computer communicates by WLAN with the car and then guides it to a free space.

OLED technology can be used in multiple ways. In the case of the Audi R8 OLED concept (pictuerd in the photo album) hundreds of small triangular OLED lights outline the dynamic contours of the body. OLEDs arranged as a display can transform the rear end of the car into an animated surface (see photo above). The fluctuating points of light, only a few pixels in size, can be energized individually.

Hybrid body materials represents the combining of new hybrid metals with carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) structures. Audi is in the midst of launching the process in manufacturing a Multimaterial Space Frame, which combines aluminum, steel and fiber-reinforced components.

Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) coil springs being 40 percent lighter aim to replace coventionary steel springs. The new FRP suspension springs will make their debut before the end of 2012 in the Audi R8 e-tron model.

Multitouch controls focus on innovative touchpad technology that allows enhanced operation using several fingers. It also sends a tactile response back to the user's fingers.

Predictive suspension technology uses stereo camera sensors to identify uneven road surfaces approaching the car and in responce retunes the active suspension so that rough road surfaces are compensated for effectively providing the most comfortable ride as possible.

Placed above these specific technologies, Audi's core development concentration starts with ultra-lightweight construction. Audi considers this the most important aspect of their research particularly in regard to body construction but also in the areas of chassis and suspension. Electronics also play a vital role in future technology as the pace of innovation gets faster with electronic processing speeds doubling every two years - as described by Moore's law. Another important developmental concentration relates to e-tron technology which focuses on pure electric powered drivetrains, referred to as electromobility. And last but not least, lighting technology is another broadening field in which Audi maintains a leading position.

In the press release below there are seven sections providing far more detail in regard to each of the aforementioned new techologies.

Audi wireless charging

Audi is working flat out on the future of ‘electromobility' - on its e-tron models and their technology. The brand with the four-ring badge pursues a comprehensive concept that includes every aspect of the task, including recharging the traction battery. In this area, automatic and contactless charging is an especially interesting prospect: Audi's name for this is Audi wireless charging.

Project Leader Dr. Björn Elias says: "We aim to offer our customers a premium-standard recharging method - easy to use and fully automatic, with no mechanical contacts. It uses the induction principle, which is already well known from various products, from the electric toothbrush through the induction cooker hotplate. We are now using it to recharge cars."

Dr. Elias is in charge of the Audi wireless charging pre-development project at Audi Electronics Venture GmbH (AEV), an AUDI AG subsidiary. Within the scope of pre-development in the area of Audi electronics, AEV has the task of identifying new trends in the vehicle electronics environment, checking their suitability and bringing them up to series-production readiness, if necessary in cooperation with outside companies.

An important partner in the area of wireless charging is the WiTricity Corporation from Watertown, near Boston. The American company supplies technical components which are integrated into the vehicle's complete system, in particular the coil systems that are integrated into the plates. The primary coil is normally located at the roadside or on a parking lot; the secondary coil is on the underside of the Audi e-tron vehicle.

When the Audi e-tron or some other suitably equipped electric vehicle is driven to a point above the primary coil in the road surface, the battery charging process starts automatically. Alternating current in the primary coil generates an alternating magnetic field that crosses the air gap and induces an alternating voltage in the secondary coil on the car. This voltage is rectified and fed to the car's traction battery. The process is terminated when the battery is fully charged or if the recharging process is interrupted by driving the car away or switching it off manually.

The primary coil - for instance in the car owner's garage - can be flat on the floor or even under the surface. It is unaffected by rain, ice or snow, and since the alternating magnetic field is only built up when a vehicle is above it, there is no risk to human beings or animals.

This charging technology can be integrated into the traffic infrastructure wherever needed, for instance as garage parking equipment or on housing estates. Dr. Elias outlines a medium-term scenario: "Imagine you drive to work in your Audi e-tron, and on the way home you stop off at the store. Wherever you park the car, its battery will be recharged - perhaps even at traffic signals. These short recharging cycles are ideal for the battery: the smaller the difference between the values before and after recharging, the longer the battery's potential operating life."

Much more work will be necessary before countrywide recharging infrastructures can be built up. Audi is playing an active part as a member of the expert workgroups in Germany and America that are aiming for a uniform public standard. Dr. Elias expects automatic wireless charging technology to go into series production in a few years' time. With it, electromobility has the potential to take a further big step forward.

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Comments (21)

Aesthetics Aesthetics
i believe they can have these technologies now but and just going around until it could be made cheap
Mar 3rd, 2012 10:11pm
0 0
kondelev kondelev
guys dont forget each company has its core values, some do hard core scarey super cars (lambo) , some do affordable (scoda),..........what audi does is clearely captured by their moto: vorsprung durch technik. Audi packs more tech and gadgets than any other premium manufacture......yet they have just anounced a record profit year. Surely it must be working for them. Audis leads da world in diesel tech, all wheel drive, light body tech( A6 is lighter than the E class, 5 seriea, XF).
Mar 2nd, 2012 5:46pm
1 1
livc44411 livc44411
what as Audi really ivented bar the space frame tech and procoten safety system? Well,to be honest,not much! L.E.D lights,four wheel drive system,DSG etc all ivented by third parties,Audi just take all the credit. The real clever people out there making a difference to the car world work for Honda and Mercedes-Benz,just remember that people ;-)
Mar 2nd, 2012 1:38am
6 1
tom43 tom43
Honda??? Are you drunken?
Mar 2nd, 2012 4:46pm
2 0
Indeed it is and still is. For innovative lighting systems to appear in Audi vehicles, third party suppliers such as Hella work closely to develop such systems. Audi (and other major carmakers) claim it the technology wholesale. As for the clever people working in Honda and MB... well it is kinda flawed.
Mar 2nd, 2012 4:52pm
0 1
eddie eddie
Audi seems way ahead with the aluminum space frame technology also. Many of the other manufacturers have aluminum doors or hood and that is about it. I guess MB is starting to join the bandwagon. Lighter car may be cheaper that developing new engines.
Mar 2nd, 2012 1:13am
1 0
4everRS 4everRS
Progression is required for success in any industry. If there is no progression, there will be no company. AMC, no progression. Borders, no progression. Blackberry, no progression. Think about it. It costs much more not to have progress.
Mar 2nd, 2012 12:40am
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cnpgs cnpgs
Interesting technologies and ideas, and it'll also be interesting to see to what extent they'll filter into production models...however, hasn't the 'predicitive suspension technology' already been implemented by Mercedes on one of its concept vehicles? A-little late to the party there...however, I like the emphasis on lighter materials.
Mar 1st, 2012 10:15pm
2 0
benz_man benz_man
Mercedes' system uses Lidar (and hasnt hit production yet). The stereo-camera setup seems to be more cost intensive to implement, but with sensor-fusion the cameras can be tagged to run pre-collision, wiper control, lane-departure control, headlight adjustment, speed limit alert...the list goes on. The cost savings comes with the reduction of "other" sensors that would be needed in place of the cameras. Seems like the only card to play when you're "late to the party".
Mar 2nd, 2012 12:39am
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cnpgs cnpgs
Tbh I don't know the specifics...I was merely commenting on the 'idea' and the fact that the 'idea' has already been implemented in some form or another ;) But yes, it'll be interesting to see how each manufacturer implements it on production vehicles.
Mar 2nd, 2012 1:27pm
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shaahinmt shaahinmt
as an engineer, most this work seems to defying lean engineering and only raise the cost of manufacturing and maintenance and decrease reliability. Audi is adding too much to their house of quality and sacrificing cost.
Mar 1st, 2012 9:50pm
6 11
BrianWCF BrianWCF
Absolutely, it's called motorsports!
Mar 1st, 2012 10:04pm
9 8
shaahinmt shaahinmt
no its not. you are definitely not an engineer.
Mar 1st, 2012 11:17pm
5 13
BrianWCF BrianWCF
...and neither are you.
Mar 1st, 2012 11:22pm
9 6
BrianWCF BrianWCF
You edited your original post. What does "lean engineering" have to do with anything in this article? This article is about innovation and new technology. And since you're an engineer, you certainly understand its importance, and that the German manufacturers tend to lead the way as they make premium vehicles that are expected to push the envelope of technology. Yes, it is more expensive and could decrease reliability, but theses are not bread-and-butter basic transportation vehicles we're talking about. Your generalization that German manufacturers "over engineering" is wasteful is completely unqualified. For the German makers nothing has changed in the past 40 years. Innovation is at the core of what they do. You sure you're an engineer?
Mar 2nd, 2012 12:47am
7 4
livc44411 livc44411
Not just the Germans! The entire car world revolves around innovation! Whether it be the French manufactures,Americans,Japanese etc they have all played a part in the last 100 years to make the motor car what it is today!
Mar 2nd, 2012 1:43am
1 1
BrianWCF BrianWCF
Agreed, but to a greater degree for the Japanese and Germans and its really within the past 40 years that the technological boom in autos has transpired. The Americans have finally awoken from their balance sheet slumber and starting to turn over good ideas.
Mar 2nd, 2012 3:00pm
2 0
shaahinmt shaahinmt
adding LED to everything is not innovation. Rolls and Bentley make luxury cars without making their cars only appealing to IT people. putting an ipad in the dash, making empty parking-spot sensors and changing the shock absorbers settings so that it react to road before the road acts to the car are not very innovative. No one has put them in their cars because they are not ideal options. i have seen and heard about things in GM technology center that would make these gadgets absolutely laughable. fact is that making a successful car is just not about how many gadgets you can fit in it. why do you think Hyundai is doing amazing off the chart progress?
Mar 2nd, 2012 6:02am
5 3
Gronig Gronig
If all engineers would think this way, mankind would still live in caves and on trees.
Mar 2nd, 2012 12:49pm
1 0
BrianWCF BrianWCF
@shaahinmt, you've lost all credibility in your statements now. Quit while you're ahead.
Mar 2nd, 2012 3:02pm
3 0
vilivo vilivo
@BrianWCF - LOL, respect, I was gonna pitch in there, but I didn wanna troll on him. In other words- I agree with U...
Mar 6th, 2012 12:08am
0 0