Their latest vision is the Long Distance Lounge (LDL) Concept, which takes the form of a road-going living room in a slick Audi A8-sized box.
So far it’s just a static mock-up of the interior with images showing people chatting on comfy seats (including a power-reclining lounger and deep captain's chairs), with a sizable table-slash-tablet being the centrepiece of the cabin.
While the LDL vehicle is still just a concept for now, idea it’s being designed with Level 5 Autonomy in mind, which requires no human intervention apart from starting the system and setting a destination.
With no driver’s seat and controls required, all available space can be used to provide greater luxury and Audi even envisages that seat belts won’t be required because there will be no crashes once humans are taken out of the loop – though good luck convincing government regulators of this.
There will be no engine to package around either. Flat pack batteries under the floor and in-wheel electric motors mean most of the car’s footprint can be devoted to carrying people and cargo.
The LDL also features augmented reality tech, where the windows have touchable text to tell you what you’re looking at - much like existing apps that tell you what stars, constellations or satellites you’re looking at when you point your phone skyward.
How it will work in the LDL is with brackets appearing on the windows and panoramic sunroof pointing out features outside. For example if you’re driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge the brackets will appear on the window in the line of sight of the object in question, such as the Sydney Opera House, and provide information about them if you touch the associated bracket. Very sci-fi.
You can even flick that info to another occupant’s window or device, just in case you can’t bothered pointing and saying ‘hey, look at that’.
Don’t fret if you prefer to be in control of a car though. This technology is still around 30 years away – your steering wheels are safe for now.