Audi used the 2017 Frankfurt motor show as a launching platform for its level 3, 4 and 5 autonomous production and concept vehicles, with the company now indicating it will likely offer a range of autonomous vehicles that suit alternative use cases.
When asked whether an autonomous vehicle can be sporty, Audi board member for technical development, Peter Mertens suggested autonomy comes in different shapes and sizes.
“It’s one of the key questions we have to answer [whether autonomy and sportiness can co-exist]. If you look far into the future and look at autonomy, in particular level 4 or 5, sportiness becomes a different dimension. Specifically at 5 because there is no steering, there are no pedals,” Mertens said.
“And it becomes, sort of, probably impossible to differentiate that vehicle in terms of sportiness. But coming in terms of autonomy and the future different use cases, there will be cars more focussed around use cases.”
The concept of different cars for different purposes isn’t entirely new, but this is the first admission from a manufacturer that its levels of autonomy could vary between vehicles to cater for use cases.
For example, Audi’s level 4 Elaine concept features powerful electric motors on each axle, along with steering and pedals to allow the driver to take over at any point.
But, step up to the level 5 Aicon concept and this drops back a notch in terms of electric motor power output, instead catering for a leisurely form of autonomy.
“There won’t be this one car you use for everything. There’s a car I use in the city and there’s a car I use for commuting and there’s a car that I use for fun and driving itself. And that sportiness comes into play there very much again,” said Mertens.
“That also shows the business models will have changed. This is going to be possible with us sharing business models and content in the future. You don’t restrict yourself to use one car, you want to have different cars for different use cases.”
It’s an interesting admission from Audi and gives us an insight into what the future will look like in the autonomous world.
If you buy an autonomous car in the future, do you care if it’s capable of sporty driving?