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Dodge red lights in your autonomous Audi: More tech from CES

Wed, 08 Jan 2014 00:00:00 -0800

Audi wowed the crowd at CES with a new advancement in, of all things, headlights when it announced it would show a version of its Sport quattro laserlight Concept with laser beam headlights. Frickin' laser beams, as Dr. Evil once demanded on sharks (the good doctor ultimately had to settle for sea bass instead of sharks, but they still had laser beams). The laser light waves oscillate at 450 nanometers and put out 1200 lumens, good for 500 meters -- or well over a quarter mile -- of night vision.

But that was not all. Audi also laid out plans for other future tech on its cars, including:

- Smart City Traffic Light Assistance, which will receive data from city traffic signals and tell you the optimum speed to travel in order to hit all green lights on your commute. There were demo rides of this technology being given in Las Vegas, though we didn't have time for one.

- The autonomous car is coming, Audi repeated throughout CES. One example of how it will be packaged came when Audi head of development for electric and electronics Ricky Hudi showed a slide of last year's autonomous Audi. The cargo area of that car was brimming with all the electronics necessary to control, steer, accelerate and brake that car. Then Hudi held up an iPad-sized circuit board: the amount of space the same computing power took up in this year's autonomous car.

- Audi announced it will partner with AT&T to offer 4G LTE connectivity in the new A3.

- A “virtual cockpit” display showed the dashboard of the coming TT, with an instantly reconfigurable gauge cluster that displays maps in the varying space between the speedo and tach. It looked very cool in the demo.

- Even inductive charging of your cell phone is coming. The process takes place as the phone sits snugly in place under the center armrest. Just put it in there and it charges away. This will be increasingly necessary as your phone becomes the medium through which infotainment and other data is constantly downloaded as you drive.

After performance, technology is the second most important consideration for Audi buyers, CEO Scott Keogh said. So Audi plans to keep both. But the increase in technology comes at a price: about a $10,000 increase in average transaction price in the last four years, according to Keogh. Still, you get what you pay for. With Audis, it appears, you'll keep getting more.




By Mark Vaughn