• Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
  • Image Credit: Audi
Designed as they are to take the driver out of the equation, you might think that the idea of an autonomous vehicle would seem diametrically opposed to that of a supercar. But Audi disagrees. The German automaker has cooked up a series of "piloted driving" concepts that are increasingly focused on performance, and this could be the ultimate iteration yet.

Audi's latest Piloted Driving demonstrator is based on the R8 E-Tron. It's altogether almost identical to the one we saw in Geneva, packing an electric powertrain to deliver 456 horsepower, 679 pound-feet of torque and a 0-62 time of 3.9 seconds. Only in this case, it can do it all on its own, without any driver intervention.

To pull that off, Ingolstadt has fitted this show car with an array of sensors, including a new laser scanner, multiple video cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar transmitters at both ends – all handled by a central "driver assistance control unit."

It's the latest in a series of concept cars that has already included a version of the RS7 Sportback designed to lap the racetrack, and the Prologue concept that drove itself to CES. This concept was similarly unveiled at CES Asia, the Eastern counterpart to the tech expo we usually catch in Las Vegas.

Just what the point is in engineering (or buying) one of the best-driving cars on the market and then handing over its operation to a computer, we don't quite get. But at least we can rest easy knowing that Audi is not giving up on performance as autonomous tech turns the driver into just another passenger.

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Audi R8 e-tron piloted driving technical concept car

340 kW of power, 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds and a driving range of 450 km (279.6 mi) – Audi has extensively developed its all-electrically powered high-performance R8 e-tron sports car further. The technology study is one of the highlights of CES Asia, and it brings together future technologies – which relate to lightweight design, high-performance drive systems and functions for piloted driving.

The Audi R8 e-tron piloted driving concept car is based on the multimaterial Space Frame of the new production R8. A rear car body module made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) integrates the luggage compartment, which extends the frame structure. The walls of the luggage compartment shell are corrugated, so that they can absorb extreme amounts of energy with little material weight in case of a rear-end collision. Thanks to specific modifications made to the outer shell and wheels, the Audi R8 e-tron piloted driving attains a low Cd value of 0.28. Its front end and sideblades feature e-tron specific lighting solutions.

The T-shaped battery is structurally integrated into the center tunnel and behind the occupant cell – its low center of gravity further boosts the already excellent driving dynamics of the R8 e-tron piloted driving. The high-voltage battery is based on a new lithium-ion technology that has, for the first time, been specifically designed for the drive system of an all-electric vehicle. Compared to the first technology platform, the battery's energy capacity has grown from 49 kWh to approximately 92 kWh. Optimized space utilization and improved battery cell technology enabled this progress without requiring package modifications. Audi produces the high-voltage battery itself.

The R8 e-tron piloted driving achieves an electric range of 450 kilometers (279.6 mi) instead of a previous 215 kilometers (133.6 mi), its energy density was increased from 84 Wh/kg to 154 Wh/kg and several other modifications were made. The high-performance sports car has the Combined Charging System (CCS) on board, which allows charging with direct and alternating current. With this system, the customer can charge the large battery in significantly less than two hours.

The two electric motors each output 170 kW of power and 460 Nm (339.3 lb-ft) of torque to the rear axle. The R8 e-tron piloted driving rockets from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds on its way to an electronically-governed top speed of 210 km/h (130.5 mph) or 250 km/h (155.3 mph), depending on the car's tires. Intelligent energy management and an electromechanical brake system enable high energy recuperation rates. Targeted torque vectoring – needs-based distribution of power transmission between the rear wheels – ensures maximum stability and dynamism.

The R8 e-tron piloted driving technical study is equipped with all of the functions of piloted driving. Data is acquired from the interplay of an array of sensors: a new type of laser scanner, several video cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar sensors at the front and rear. Based on signals from these sources, the central driver assistance control unit (zFAS), a compact central computer, computes a comprehensive picture of the vehicle's environment.

Audi can build the R8 e-tron in handcrafted quality to meet special customer requests. The company uses its high-performance electric sports car primarily as a high-tech mobile laboratory.

Fuel consumption of the models named above:

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron:
Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 1.7 – 1.5** (138.4 – 156.8 US mpg);
Combined electrical power consumption in kWh/100km: 124 – 114**;
Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 39 – 35** (62.8 – 56.3 g/mi)

Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro
This vehicle is not yet on sale. It does not yet have type approval and is therefore not subject to Directive 1999/94/EC.

Audi R8 LMX:
This vehicle is not yet on sale. It does not yet have type approval and is therefore not subject to Directive 1999/94/EC.

Audi R8 e-tron:
This vehicle is not yet on sale. It does not yet have type approval and is therefore not subject to Directive 1999/94/EC.

**Details on the fuel consumption, the CO2 emissions and efficiency classes given as a range depend on the tire/wheel set used.

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