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Audi to Launch Driverless Tech Division Called ‘Autonomous Intelligent Driving'

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【Summary】But unlike its previous efforts and projects with third-party partners, this ancillary business will collaborate with the entire Volkswagen Group: Porsche, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, as well as Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.

Michael Cheng    Mar 23, 2017 6:13 AM PT
Audi to Launch Driverless Tech Division Called ‘Autonomous Intelligent Driving'

Audi has been a key player in the development of self-driving technology. The company, under Volkswagen Group, promised it would release a self-driving version of the iconic A8 with SAE-L3 features this year. Like other automakers, it too plans to deliver a fully autonomous vehicle to commercial markets by 2020, with help from a unique partnership with Nvidia.

"When Audi introduces the next-generation A8 later this year, it will feature Traffic Jam Pilot (TJP)," explained Russ Heaps from Autotrader.

To reinforce its commitment to creating driverless cars, Audi announced it will launch a new subsidiary called Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID). As the title of the newly formed division suggests, the supplementary arm will focus on fast-tracking the development of autonomous vehicles. But unlike its previous efforts and projects with third-party partners, this ancillary business will collaborate with the entire Volkswagen Group.

Calling EU Automakers

This is massive for EU automakers, as Volkswagen Group owns the following car brands: Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, as well as Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. Outside of this impressive circle of successful auto companies, Skoda (one of the oldest car manufacturers with 120 years of production experience) and SEAT (automaker based in Spain) are also included under Volkswagen Group's umbrella of well-established businesses in the private car sector.

By announcing collaboration with Volkswagen Group, Audi could be hinting that driverless technology to come out of AID may trickle down to other businesses in the group. If that's the case, then we may see a long list of superior sports cars – from Lamborghini's Huracan to Bentley's Bentayga – feature self-driving capabilities in the future.

The subsidiary is part of a bigger plan to help boost profitability for Volkswagen Group after suffering major setbacks and losses in 2016. Audi's vehicles were included in the highly controversial Takata airbag recall that affected millions of automakers, including BMW, Honda and Ferrari. Then there's the looming diesel emissions scandal that has severely crippled Volkswagen, leaving a $4.3 billion dent in the business in the form of criminal and civil fines.

Path to Success

The launch of AID opens up another opportunity for Audi to develop autonomous platforms. The establishment will continue to work on ADAS features for its own fleet and line of luxury cars. Furthermore, the business is diving into the EV market with the projected release of three EVs in 2020. Rumors buzzing around the industry suggest that Audi plans to release its first EV model by 2018, called e-tron. Other electrified verisions of already existing Audi vehicles will also likely adopt the name, as confirmed by Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG.

"We see potential for highly automated driving also in the city, where traffic is highly complex; this is the ultimate test for us," Stadler said, according to a transcript of his remarks. "In the next decade, we will also have robot taxis. They will close the gap in urban public transport. We will first experience cars without a steering wheel and pedals on predefined short journeys."

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