- Lack of global regulations on the autonomous car is the reason
- Updated A8 is due next year
Audi has cancelled their plans of introducing Level 3 autonomous driving technology in the A8 flagship sedan. The lack of government regulations on the self-driving car is the reason stated by the carmaker for delaying the market introduction of their Traffic Jam Pilot autonomous tech. Introduced in 2017, the mid-life update for the Luxo-barge is due next year.
The ‘hands-off the steering wheel’ technology was one of the many breakthroughs in the A8 when it was introduced three years back. But Audi said the system would only be activated in markets where governments allowed it. The global regulators in Geneva have still not agreed on a type approval process for the Level 3 functionality. With the delay by the governing body on passing the necessary legal framework and regulations of such technology, Audi won’t have sufficient time to homologate the tech for production before the facelift arrives next year. The German carmaker cited problems getting regulatory approval for the Traffic Jam Pilot, which at the time of operating would automatically transfer the liability in the event of an accident from the driver to the manufacturer.
For the uninitiated, with Level 3 autonomy, the vehicle can be put in autopilot under certain circumstances allowing the driver to take his eyes off the road. The Four Rings wanted to be the forerunner of this technology before its rivals (which now seems unlikely). If it would have been introduced, the Traffic Jam Pilot could allow the driver to pass on the driving responsibilities entirely to the vehicle in stop-and-go traffic conditions. The Level 2 system which is available in the market – such as Tesla Autopilot – still requires the driver to monitor the surrounding and is always liable for the car’s actions.
Since the liability in case of the accident falls on the carmaker, even though the customer might have not serviced the vehicle properly, Audi’s executives have been critical about the Level 3 autonomy. Even Volvo doesn’t consider the Level 3 safe and plans to skip it altogether. Therefore, Audi's focus has shifted on improving Level 2 driver-assistance systems for now.