Audi knew they would have to do something dramatic to stand out at the Consumer Electronics Show happening this week in Las Vegas. It’s an annual event with a lot of reporters; how to make a splash?
The answer was to arrive in the longest computer driven road trip in recent memory: a 550 mile trek from the foggy hillsides of San Francisco to the deserts of show town Las Vegas. The entire trip would be accomplished by a self-driving A7 sedan using Audi’s proprietary autonomous driving technology.
The result was a collision-free success. Driving with special permits from California and Nevada, the A7 ferried a number of journalists and engineers completely on its own. The magic comes from a range of high-resolution cameras and sensors throughout the A7’s body. They enable a computer to handle highway cruising, including lane changes, at speeds that don’t terrify fellow motorists.
Once safely in Las Vegas, Audi showed off a new tablet that it wants to replace the stationary display most automakers place on the dashboard. Since new Audis will have the Virtual Cockpit for the driver, a tablet will allow any other passenger to adjust media, climate, navigation and other inputs.
Audi’s tablet has a matte finish to minimize the vibrations that come from driving on the road. The screen is specially tempered to avoid shattering in the event of a collision. And the aluminum body is light enough to avoid becoming a dangerous flying object.
In addition, Audi briefly showed a smartwatch under development. Right now we know it will be able to lock/unlock doors, pre-heat or cool the car, and even toot the horn, if you ever wanted to do that. Basically everything a smartphone app will let you do. We’ll see what Audi comes up with here.
That’s the news from Audi at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. We’ll keep you posted on any new stories.