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by Tim Beissmann

Audi has lifted the lid on its latest technological developments at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), with the premium German car maker revealing its autonomous driving system and some innovative lighting features that are set to reach showrooms in the near future.

Audi’s autonomous system, which it calls ‘piloted driving’, is designed to take control of the car’s acceleration, braking and steering functions in congested traffic at speeds up to 60km/h, freeing up the driver to focus on other tasks.

The system utilises Audi’s adaptive cruise control technology, with two radar sensors, a wide-angle video camera, eight ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner monitoring the vehicle’s surroundings to keep it safely on track.

An added feature of the piloted driving system is its autonomous parking function, allowing drivers to exit their vehicle in front of a garage or tight parking spot and instruct the car to park itself via either the key fob or a smartphone. After reaching its final position, the vehicle shuts off its engine, deactivates the ignition, locks the doors and sends a confirmation message to the driver.


An industry pioneer in vehicle lighting technology, Audi also revealed a number of new features based on laser lights and OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes).

In good visibility, Audi’s laser tail-light technology projects a fan-shaped red line onto the road surface, prompting the driver behind to maintain a safe travelling distance. In fog or rain, the laser beam illuminates the water droplets, forming the shape of a large, floating warning triangle.

Audi also believes OLEDs can replace conventional semiconductor crystal-based LEDs inside vehicles and in tail-lights in future models. OLEDs consist of an organic material spread extremely thinly (only a few thousandths of a millimetre thick) across a perfectly flat surface and emit light-creating photons when an electrical voltage is applied, creating a light distribution that is both homogenous and energy efficient.

Audi believes OLEDs have particular potential in what’s known as a ‘swarm’ layout, with its engineers transforming the vehicle’s rear end into a large, continuous light surface with small points of light moving and flickering like a school of fish.

“The movements of the red dots follow the movements of the vehicle,” Audi explains.

“When a right turn is made, they flow to the right; when the car is braked, they flow rapidly forwards; the faster the car goes, the faster they move. The following driver can always see right away what the driver of the car in front is doing.”

Audi is continuing work on the technologies displayed at CES in the hope of enhancing the safety and innovation of its production vehicles over the next decade.