The world is becoming increasingly networked, and Audi is intensifying its links with the world. Audi has been collaborating with Google since 2005, and, as a result of this fruitful partnership, has set new standards in Internet use in the vehicle. With Audi connect, the manufacturer with the four rings is now continuing to build on this foundation and is expanding its product range to include new forms of networking. In the process, Audi connect is encompassing the fields of online vehicle connection, networking of the car and its owner and networking of the car with the infrastructure and with other cars.
Audi connect is already present in the Audi A8, A7 Sportback and the new A6, and soon the A1 will include it as well. These models can be equipped with an optional UMTS module that links them with the online world. These connections make a wide array of useful applications possible, such as the unrestricted integration of Google Earth into the navigation system's map display, which makes orientation significantly easier. In addition, due to being connected to the Google search engine, the driver has instant access to a huge number of up-to-date points of interest. And the integrated information service brings information such as weather, travel data and news into the car.
Thanks to the integrated W-LAN hotspot, up to eight mobile devices can be linked to the Internet. In June 2010 an independent jury selected the online functionality of the Audi A8 and A7 Sportback models as the “Best Embedded Navigation Telematics Product”.
Additional milestones are due to follow in Europe during summer 2011, with Audi online traffic information and expanded voice command controls – which can be used to find special destinations via Google. Audi online traffic information provides precise forecasts about traffic situations on selected routes based on real-time information, and works faster and more accurately than any previous traffic information services.
In addition, in future Audi customers in some countries will be able to use Google Street View as a new online service, and will be able to view the navigation destination on the MMI display from the pedestrian’s perspective in a 360-degree radius.
Further into the future, the Audi online connection will allow customers to use software functions to influence the car, as well as make use of online services. An array of functions will be automatically updated or can be activated retrospectively.
“We’re following a clear strategy with all Audi connect functions, to keep operation simple, minimize driver distraction and keep the level of safety high. The online services are integrated into the sophisticated Audi display format. The functions intentionally do not offer the entire spectrum of the Internet, but instead present a selection that offers maximum usefulness,” said Ricky Hudi, Head of Electric and Electronic Development at AUDI AG.
Another topic of Audi connect defines the network between the car and the owner. Here, Audi connect pairs the automotive environment with the new lifestyle shaped by the Internet and mobile telephony. Audi drivers will be able to use a wide range of Smartphone functions that are specially adapted for their Audi model. For instance, photos taken with a GPS cell phone can be stored in the navigation system, which can then show the coordinates for the location of the photo. The Smartphone also plays an important role in the mobility plans for cars powered by electricity. With the prototypes for the Audi A1 e-tron, the driver can view the status of the rechargeable battery on their cell phone display at all times. The driver can also check whether the doors and windows are closed, or if there is any service information. Controlling interior temperature by cell phone is also possible. In order to gather practical experience in this area, in summer 2011 Audi and one or two partners will launch a fleet test with the A1 e-tron.
Another field with which Audi connect is concerned is the connection between the car and its environment. This centers around what is known as car-to-car, car-to-x and x-to-car communications. These terms describe the exchange of data between various cars, from cars to the infrastructure, and from the infrastructure to the car.
In order to explore such technologies, already in 2006 Audi joined up with various partners to launch the Travolution project. As part of the project, more than 150 traffic signals in Ingolstadt were equipped to communicate with 15 test vehicles. This network recommends the optimal speed for drivers to travel in order to “ride the green wave.” Optionally, the electronics are capable of controlling the speed automatically. This improves traffic flow, results in shorter waiting times, and reduces CO₂ emissions by up to one fifth. In addition, the car’s electronics intervene if a car threatens to run a red light.
Car-to-car communication also plays a major role at Audi. If, for example, a car at the end of a traffic jam can warn cars behind by radio signal, or if warnings about slick streets can be communicated from one car to the next, this can increase traffic safety considerably. But these approaches to research also serve to prepare Audi cars for driving completely independently. One scenario could include fatigued drivers in congested areas turning driving over to the intelligent technology in order to more effectively utilize time.
“The topics bundled within Audi connect will largely determine the mobility of the future. With the applications we presented at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early 2011, we will contribute significantly to shaping the networked world of the future. We will be presenting more innovations for this in the near future. Thanks to the new Audi connect technologies, driving an Audi will be even more enjoyable, efficient and safe. And in spite of all of the networking, the technology will play a supporting role and will never overrule the driver,” said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG.