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Audi AI: ME (2019): A2 of the future has electric rear-wheel drive

Audi AI: ME (2019)
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D er AI: ME is the urban counterpart to the Aicon, which is intended for comfortable travel between cities and which it should of course cover electrically and autonomously (after level 5), while the AI: ME only masters level 4. That's what the AI: ME has in contrast to the fully autonomous Aicon steering wheel and pedals. Both can, however, be folded away or sunk. The city car should drive autonomously to level 4, i.e. after the second-highest level. Systems with level 4 no longer require the driver to support them, but are limited to a specific functional area, such as the motorway or a specially equipped area in city centers. Here the driver can completely hand over to the system and only takes over again when the car leaves the area defined for fully automated driving.

Visually a modern A2

From the outside, it's not just the rear that reminds you the study with its kink in the window on the aluminum small car A2, which Audi built from 1999 to 2005. The sketches even show the crease in the pane on the side. This visually sets the window line considerably higher, as is known from most of the brand's models. In addition, the kink makes the interior width at arm height largest. Quattro edges above the exposed wheel arches emphasize the 23-inch wheels. An E-Tron logo on the rear diffuser reveals the electric drive. From the front, the AI: ME is very similar to the Aicon: The grille is, like its bigger brother, closed and inverted, i.e. its inner part arches further forward than the frame. The windshield is very flat and seems to merge into the short 'hood' without any kinks. Overall, the AI: ME looks well proportioned and looks considerably sportier than the first A2. 4.30 meters in length, 47 centimeters more than the aluminum cart from 1999, robs it of the small car look. Above all, however, it is 1.90 wide (around 23 centimeters more than the A2) and allows it to sit well on the studio floor. In addition, the AI: ME is a good three centimeters flatter than the A2 at 1.52 meters. The 23-inch wheels and the retracted sill look sporty and are not reminiscent of an autonomously rolling people moover.

He can afford the generous width and corresponding frontal area, because he is mainly used in the city Mostly likely to move at speeds of 20 to 70 km /h, while the A2 at that time with a drag coefficient of 0.25 and narrow as it was, glided so smoothly through the wind that even with the basic engine (75 hp) according to the speedometerTop speeds of 190 km /h (factory specification: 173 km /h) were possible. Audi head of design Marc Lichte, however, also promises a very good drag coefficient for the AI: ME, without any precise specification.

The study is an MEB car

During the late 1990s For years it was already considered eco-friendly, with lightweight construction and little air resistance to save fuel, cars should not consume any more in the future. The battery-electric drive is therefore mandatory in the VW Group's future visions. The key data of the AI: ME reads as if it were based on the modular electrical construction kit (MEB). Its dimensions are similar to those of the Seat El Born, the wheelbase of 2.77 meters corresponds to that of all MEB cars (except for the Buzz). And on the rear axle there is a synchronous motor with 170 hp like the ID. The battery has a capacity of 65 kWh. According to Audi, the fact that the AI: ME will run with MEB technology when it comes on the market is rather unlikely or optionally unimportant: The vision is aimed at the more distant future, maybe 2030. And then the MEB will find it in second generation use. Perhaps we will even be driving on hydrogen when we one day sit in the series AI: ME. Even Audi Head of Design Marc Lichte believes that the reality of autonomous driving is currently felt to be shifting a little further into the future. But the way the AI: ME looks, you could imagine it on the road in two years' time - as an electric new edition of the A2, whose popularity only rose to cult status after production ended.

Swiveling passengers instead of seats and eye control

If the A2 II came with the spacious interior of an MEB car, it would benefit from the basic package advantages of the electric drive. The MEB allows short overhangs and does not need a cardan tunnel because the engine is on the rear axle. However, inside it is also noticeable that the AI: ME is 2 centimeters flatter than the Seat El Born: Despite the thin glass roof, the headroom is only sufficient because the seats are built comparatively deep. This makes turning in the seat easier in the study. In fact, the two individual seats in the front and the rear bench are designed in this way. Instead of rotating the seating, Audi has rounded the backrests significantly so that passengers can more easily face each other in communication situations. If you look up, filigree wooden struts create the illusion of a pergola through which ivy twines - in fact. 'Vegetation, which is a rarity in the often hostile biotope of large cities, also helps create a feeling of closeness to nature in automobiles and at the same time objectively improves the air quality,' says the press release. Elaborate filter systems are supposed to filter the outside air before it gets into the interior.

Even if production cars are already filtering the air today: In terms of the operating concept, the AI: ME is quite a vision of the future. Communication and vehicle systemscontrol the occupants via eye tracking, voice input and touch-sensitive fields in the door sill. They are usually invisible and only light up when approached. As with the Aicon, a multifunctional three-dimensional OLED monitor extends over the entire width below the windshield. It virtually replaces the previous multifunctional screen above the center console. Function menus for navigation or infotainment, for example, can be activated on it at a glance and then release additional levels that switch from the background to the sharp foreground mode on the 3D monitor.

VR billing for passengers, LED for passers-by

The 3D monitor is already known from the Aicon, which no longer has a steering wheel and has particularly comfortable armchairs that can be moved far away from the windshield and can be brought into a lying position. The operation must of course be adapted to the sitting position far away from the screen and works via voice and eye control. In AI: ME, VR glasses should enable Internet use, watch films, or even interactive gaming. Audi has already shown the possibilities the developers are envisioning at CES 2019 in Las Vegas with the Holoride system: Its sensors recognize the vehicle's own movement and integrate it interactively into the visual course of a game. The passenger should not only see himself in the middle of the action, but also feel. The outside world is filtered out as much as possible and inside the AI: ME the passengers are in their own world.

Of course, this only works if the AI.ME takes over the driving. For these cases, like the Aicon, it has elaborate LED lights up to the top of the fenders so that it can send signals from practically all perspectives.

Audi on demand of the future will do without an all-purpose car

The AI: ME is the third vehicle with which Audi wants to show a future version of Audi on demand. Customers of the future should be able to temporarily order and use special cars for a specific purpose: The PB18, for example, which has no autonomous driving skills (level 0), is intended for leisure-oriented use on the racetrack, the Aicon for the interurban travel and the AI: ME for urban transportation. Audi will show a fourth such show car at the IAA in September - very likely an off-road recreational vehicle on demand. Because it is only made for one purpose and can be requested for it, its conception can be more uncompromising than today's SUV: for shopping or taking children to school there is the AI: ME.

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