Audi AI: Trail Quattro Concept

Concept vehicles are fantastic. They can be mind-bendingly bonkers to look at, but underneath all the flash there is always something interesting going on – and at the very least we get an idea of just what sort of journey car designers of are going to take us on.

The Audi AI:Trail quattro is a good example of this – a concept that has some technology we might expect in a concept but with some features that are eye-openingly futuristic, and all wrapped in a really cool package.

The four-seater car – that is, says Audi, capable of up to Level 4 autonomous driving – is equipped with four electric motors, systems for assisted and automated driving and quattro permanent all-wheel drive. Maximum system output is 320 kilowatts and the maximum torque is 1,000 Newton-metres.
The AI:Trail lithium-ion battery is good for 400km to 500km of range on roads or easy off-road terrain. On rough ground, where energy consumption is higher, Audi says the range limit will still be around the 250km mark. The vehicle is designed to reach a maximum speed of 130km/h on the road. The vehicle electronics continuously monitor the energy flow and consumption, ensuring maximum economy even during off-road driving.

It also helps that the AI:Trail is fairly light for a vehicle with a big battery. Constructed of a mixture of high-tech steel, aluminium and carbon fibre, it comes in at 1,750kg.

At 4.15 metres long and 2.15 metres wide, AI:Trail sits on whopping 22-inch wheels and has 340mm of ground clearance. With its focus on off-road work, the AI:Trail doesn’t have some of the tech we might expect of other new concepts – there are no big screens or displays on board. Instead, there’s plenty of broad glass surfaces that provide a clear view of the surroundings.

Inside, there are pedals, a yoke for a steering wheel, a few buttons, and a smartphone attached to the steering column as a display and control centre for vehicle functions and navigation—those are all the elements for the interaction between the driver and the vehicle.

However, while there might appear to be less tech than on other concepts we see these days, there is at least one jaw-dropping feature on the AI:Trail.
Instead of conventional low beams and high beam lights, the vehicle is equipped with five electrically operated drones with integrated matrix LED elements.

Yes. Drones.

Known as Audi Light Pathfinders, they are, apparently, capable of landing on a roof rack or directly on the roof of the vehicle and docking onto inductive charging elements. They are designed to fly ahead of the AI:Trail and illuminate the path ahead, replacing headlights entirely. On-board cameras generate a video image that can be transmitted to the display in front of the driver via Wi-Fi, turning the Pathfinders into eyes in the sky!

Crazy times!

12 Oct 2019

Original source: Motor Trader Magazine (Oct 2019)