Audi reveals flagship ‘A8’ for self-driving era

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The new Audi A8.
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A technical leap forward.
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The relaxation seat.
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Interior design: Combines luxury and attention to detail.
Updated 22 July 2017

Audi reveals flagship ‘A8’ for self-driving era

A glitzy presentation in Barcelona dubbed the “Audi Summit” unveiled the fourth-generation Audi A8, a flagship sedan that takes autonomous driving technology one step further.
The piloted driving functions will be rolled out in 2018 when the car is launched in world markets, subject to local rules and regulations.
It is the first production automobile to have been developed especially for highly automated driving. The Audi AI traffic jam pilot takes charge of driving in both slow-moving traffic and at speeds of up to 60 kph on highways where there is a physical barrier between the two carriageways. The system is activated by pushing the “AI” button.
While cars such as models by Tesla and the Volvo XC90 use level-two autonomous driving, Audi A8 has jumped to level three, which allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and watch TV while the car controls steering, speed and brakes. When the system reaches its limits, it calls on the driver to resume control.
The Audi AI remote parking pilot and garage pilot autonomously steer the A8 into and out of a parking space or garage, while the maneuver is monitored by the driver. The driver need not be sitting in the car. They start the appropriate system from their smartphone using the new “myAudi” app.
The new A8 signals a new design language for the marque, with a wide front grille and fluid body that exudes elegance and flair. It is wider and taller than its predecessor, with the A8L measuring 5.3 meters in length. The body is made from lightweight aluminum and the drivetrain is linked to all wheels via permanent “quattro” drive. The A8 uses HD Matrix LED headlights with Audi laser lighting and the rear lights are LED with OLED technology.
Office on wheels
There is more interior space in the lounge-like passenger compartment, and the level of equipment and attention to detail surpasses any previous Audi model. The rear right seat in the A8L is the most luxurious and can be turned into an office on wheels. The optional seat comes with four different adjustments and a footrest. A passenger in this seat can warm and massage the soles of his or her feet on a unit incorporated into the back of the front passenger seat.
The rear passengers can also control an array of functions such as ambient lighting and seat massage, plus make private phone calls, via a separate operating unit. The rear seat remote, with its OLED display as large as a smartphone, is a removable unit housed in the center armrest.
The instrument panel is kept largely clear of buttons and switches. At its center is a 10.1-inch touchscreen display which, when off, blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black surround.
The driver controls the infotainment system with fingertip control on the large display. They can also use a second touchscreen display to access the air conditioning and comfort functions as well as make text inputs. Voice control can also be used to activate functions such as destinations and media. The car is capable of recognizing hazards on the road, and can communicate with smart infrastructure and provide the driver with intelligent navigation search suggestions.
The A8 enters the German market in late fall 2017. Audi is also planning an A8 plug-in hybrid model at a later date.
The reported starting price for the new A8 in Europe is €90,600 ($104,300).


Screen star Shahad Ballan in new anti-speeding campaign

Shahad Ballan has joined forces with Dubai Autodrome for her new campaign. (Supplied)
Updated 04 February 2020

Screen star Shahad Ballan in new anti-speeding campaign

  • Shahad Ballan’s new campaign aims to safely channel youths’ desire for speed while driving

DUBAI: Syrian TV presenter Shahad Ballan has joined forces with Dubai Autodrome, the UAE’s motorsports and entertainment complex, in a new campaign called #SpeedLegally, which aims to safely channel youths’ desire for speed while driving.

“The whole point of the campaign is to tell people it’s OK if you like to speed. At the end of the day, people like this rush and adrenaline,” Ballan told Arab News.

Ballan hopes that by teaching youngsters to only speed on race tracks, it could lower the number of crashes on the UAE’s roads. (Supplied)

“Adrenaline is a hormone in our body. We can’t ignore that … Instead of just fighting it, let us encourage youngsters who like to speed to release this energy that they have and practice their love for speed and driving in designated areas such as race tracks.”

At Dubai Autodrome, people can book sessions to race using their own cars or those available there.

“It’s all about discipline,” Ballan said. “When you’re angry or stressed or excited, you release your energy in different ways. Some people eat, some people go to the gym, some people do kickboxing. So this call to action is the same thing.”

At Dubai Autodrome, people can book sessions to race using their own cars or those available there. (Supplied)

She hopes that by teaching youngsters to only speed on race tracks, it could lower the number of crashes on the UAE’s roads.

According to figures from the Interior Ministry, 3,123 people were killed and 31,829 injured in car crashes from 2014 to 2018.

Ballan herself was inspired by a crash she was involved in four years ago. “I wasn’t the one driving in the accident. I was with a driver,” she said.

“We weren’t the cause of the accident. Another driver … was going over the speed limit on the highway.”