Most Innovative Automaker of the Year: Audi | Edmunds

Most Innovative Automaker of the Year: Audi

As the seemingly inevitable march toward fully autonomous vehicles continues, one automaker has taken the lead: Audi. With the introduction of the all-new 2019 Audi A8 later this year, Audi will be the first major manufacturer to include a Level 3 automated driving feature in a production vehicle. When certain conditions are met, the Traffic Jam Pilot system will allow for hands-free transportation up to 37 mph. Those conditions include the necessity for a divided highway with clear markings and vehicles to follow and track in adjacent lanes. The vehicle will also need to be in areas where automated driving is allowed by state or local regulations. When the system needs intervention, it will alert the driver 10 seconds ahead of time. As restrictive as these conditions seem, the 2019 A8 represents a considerable step forward in automated driving as well as a bold move for an established manufacturer, earning it the Edmunds CES Tech Driven Award for Most Innovative Automaker of the Year.

In addition to the forthcoming Traffic Jam Pilot system, Audi has already implemented a vehicle-to-infrastructure communication system in the form of its Traffic Light Information feature on most of its new cars. Where available, this system will gather data from municipal or state traffic networks to give drivers an indication of how upcoming traffic signals are about to change. On the surface, it will display a countdown at a red light for when it is about to turn green, but the deeper implications are much more advanced. It will pave the way for autonomous vehicles to plan for traffic signals rather than react to them. It will also relay data back to the infrastructure to help traffic managers adjust timing to allow for optimal flow or rerouting. It will even take into account nearby emergency vehicles and their potential impact on signals.

2018 Honda CR-V

Besides these latest innovations, Audi has been a leader in automated driving technology for over a decade. In 2005, Audi's partnership with Stanford University won the DARPA Grand Challenge for automated vehicles. In 2009, Audi set a world speed record for automated vehicles, and the following year, a TTS made its way up Pikes Peak without a driver. Since then Audi has been at the forefront in gaining permission from California, Florida and Nevada governments to operate autonomous vehicles.

For the time being, Audi has a head start over other manufacturers in the path to full autonomy. Most estimates put that date about a decade away, but as technology catches up to intent, it will likely be here quicker than we expect. Perhaps sooner than many locales are prepared for. This award recognizes Audi for its vision, bold spirit and courage in innovation.

View more 2018 Edmunds CES Tech Driven Awards articles

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