Audi is doing away with buttons with an all-touch screen virtual dashboard that is expected to make its way into the fourth-generation Audi A8, due for launch early next year, according to a report in UK motoring site Autocar.
First seen in the Audi Q6 e-tron quattro concept car at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the “starkly reduced dashboard” will have three digital displays to control and monitor all functions and information.
The primary display in front of the steering wheel serves as the instrument panel similar to the Audi’s current virtual cockpit but is made from a very thin OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen that is curved to dramatically reduce glare.
The 14.1-inch screen has a 2240x720 pixel resolution and displays general driving information such as speed, fuel level, or battery charge status and remaining electric range where applicable and is controlled via the multi-function steering wheel.
Two more screens on the centre console control and display all key functions, which can be personalised. The upper screen shows infotainment content such as navigation and media functions, while the lower screen is used for text input and to operate the air-conditioning.
There will be no physical back-up buttons or dials, which are generally easier to operate while driving. Instead, the screens use haptic feedback, where the user hears a noise and feels a vibration whenever they press a touchscreen ‘button’.
According to Audi this helps prevent the driver’s finger straying across the screen and selecting the wrong feature on bumpy roads and they can feel the switch activate without having to look at the screen as with a physical button.
Current Audis use a rotary control knob to control touchscreen functions, but company believes doing away with that is a natural progression as everyone is used to using touchscreens on their smart phones.
Audi’s electronics expert Andres Lamprecht told Autocar the technology is “just around the corner”.
“The general philosophy of the split screens and the haptic feedback systems will be in production cars in less than one year”, said Lamprecht.
While he wouldn’t confirm the technology would be in the new A8, he did admit it would first appear in the big Audis and work their way down through the range, hence the speculation it would feature in the all-new A8.
The A8 is expected to be officially launched at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show in late February with a plug-in hybrid variant and advanced autonomous driving technology.