Audi is planning to put a small autonomous Aicon fleet into production, likely as part of a pilot program surrounding the on-board artificial intelligence (AI) and self-driving technology.
Initially launched as a concept in 2017, it seemed like the Aicon – and Elaine revealed alongside – were simply technology showcases, a way to show the world what to expect from autonomous Audi production cars, when they finally launch.
Elements of the car have already appeared in the brand's flagship A8 sedan, which moves the driver-assist game forward with Level 3 autonomous capability in certain, well-regulated circumstances.
Where the brand's current production flagship is limited to Level 3 autonomy, which limits its use to the freeway and requires a degree of driver oversight, the Aicon promises full Level 5 capability.
That focus is clear from behind the wheel where, well, there's no steering wheel. A new colloquial phrase for 'inside the car' is required for autonomous cars, clearly.
The design team has aimed for a lounge-like feeling inside, with lots of wood and light-coloured materials, reclining seats and capacitive touchscreens on the doors, dash and centre console. There's also a projector screen, capable of showing videos, driving information or the car's vital signs.
Audi hasn't revealed whether the Aicon will be m ass produced or run in limited numbers, and there's no word on the car's status as a vehicle available to the public vs lease/in-house use only. Time will tell on those ones.
According to Rupert Stadler, Audi CEO, the Aicon won't be in production until 2021. We'll be keeping an eye on developments ahead of the car's launch – yep, for the next five years – so stay tuned. Wouldn't want to miss anything, would you?