Along with a more spacious cockpit, more storage space and some improved cup holders, Audi has packed some serious new technology into its upcoming all-electric Q4 E-Tron compact crossover, including an augmented reality heads-up display (HUD) that’s reactive enough to be accurate. stick to a driver’s real environment.
Audi unveiled the interior of the Q4 E-Tron on Tuesday, the fifth electric car in its range and part of the German automaker’s plan to launch more than 30 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids by 2025. The Q4 E-Tron is expected for some. time; It was first unveiled as a concept at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show.
The outside of the production version of the Q4 is still camouflaged, but we know the dimensions. The takeaway: an electric car that fits the larger compact SUV segment with a short overhang and wheelbase of 9.1 meters – a combination that gives it a pretty tough look. However, that makes for a six-foot interior, the kind of space found in a full-size, large SUV.
The underlying architecture of the vehicle is based on the modular chassis of the parent company VW’s modular electric drive train, or the MEB platform. First introduced by VW in 2016, this flexible modular system has been developed to make it more efficient and cost-effective to manufacture a variety of electric vehicles. It has also given designers more leeway thanks to the flat floor. And they took advantage of that space by diving into a center console with two cup holders, a 4.4-liter storage compartment with a lid, two (or four as an option) USB-C connections and the Audi phone box (which charges wirelessly and wirelessly) . amplifies your phone’s signal) upon request.
The real story here is the technology – and most importantly, an option to add an AR-compatible windshield. The AR windshield offers a wider field of view and more accurate and dynamic animations compared to a standard windshield HUD. The Q4 E-Tron will split important displayed information into two sections: one for status and one for AR. The first, which appears approximately 3 meters in front of the driver, shows the driving speed, road signs, assistance system and navigation symbols as static displays.
With the AR section, the driver will perceive the floating symbols from about 10 meters away. That displays information such as lane departure warnings that show a red line over the real lane marker and a colored line over an active car leading the way in adaptive cruise control.
“Head-up displays are not new,” says Audi. “This only brings the field of view further out, allowing for more active use.”
The AR also displays navigation information. Audi calls the turn arrows ‘drones’, probably because the arrows fly forward as they go straight and then disappear and reappear for the next action point. When the driver approaches an intersection, the drone will announce the turn before accurately directing the driver onto the road.
In terms of software, the Q4 E-Tron’s processing unit, called the AR Creator, picks up raw data from the front camera, radar sensor and GPS navigation to display display symbols at a rate of 60 frames per second and adjust it. to the environment. The quality of these displays, shown by some sophisticated smoke and mirrors on what Audi calls the EV’s “Picture Generation Unit (PGU)” – a lot of mirrors actually – will clearly be key to how well it works in real life. . With only simulations to show at the moment, it’s not clear how well Audi will do this. A wider frame with dynamic symbols must live up to its promise to “appear as clearly as their real surroundings”, otherwise they will become an obstacle to the driver, and if they do not achieve the depth effect precisely, they may even cause discomfort to the driver. driver.
The Q4 E-Tron also features an updated natural language voice control activated by saying ‘Hey Audi’. The new car will also replace physical buttons on the steering wheel in favor of touch-sensitive buttons. But with a haptic feedback loop, it still feels a bit like pressing a button.
About 3% of the company’s sales in 2020, or 47,000 vehicles, were the electric E-Tron SUV and the E-Tron Sportback, a number that is sure to increase as the company continues to roll out luxury electric vehicles.
Written by Rebecca Bellan for TechCrunch.