Audi seems to be intent on getting rid of the driver from automobiles, and has added two new models to its growing list of autonomous concepts. The German carmaker has just unveiled the Aicon and the Elaine at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.
What sets the Aicon apart from the existing crop of autonomous cars is the absence of any kind of driver controls. Classified as a level five autonomous vehicle, the Aicon can do everything by itself, at all times. The four occupants, meanwhile, have the option of relishing all the creature comforts like the windshield which can double up as an entertainment screen. There are a bunch of other screens too, which allow passengers to watch movies, access web and hold video conferences. The dashboard is a wide touchscreen and allows access for the different menus. The seats swivel around so that the front passengers can face the rear passengers.
On the outside, the Aicon doesn’t get traditional headlamps, as the computers just need cameras, lasers and sensors to drive. What it does get, are digital displays which can project anything, ranging from mild light to make the Aicon visible to other cars to custom messages. Each wheel gets its own electric motor, with a combined output of 350bhp. Audi claims that the battery would give the Aicon a range of 900 kilometres, and can be recharged up to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes.
The Elaine on the other hand, is less of a kill joy, thanks to the driver controls. Based on the E-Tron Sportback concept, which was unveiled at Auto Shanghai 2017, the Elaine is classified as a level four autonomous vehicle. Apart from being as capable as its host, the Elaine gets the traffic jam pilot system. This system can change lanes without any human input. While the E-Tron Sportback is slated to go into production in 2019, there is no word about the Elaine’s fate.