Many folks are cool on autonomous cars because we actually like to drive, but nobody wants to be stuck in rush hour or city congestion. Audi has addressed those concerns with the AI:ME, its latest urban concept car. The Level 4 self-driving EV would allow you to chill and be entertained in your vehicle, rather than getting stressed by traffic jams and angry drivers.
EV-wise, the AI:ME is fairly conventional with a 65 kWh battery that should be more than sufficient for city and stop-and-go driving. It’s designed for both regular and self-driving chores, so it has a steering wheel, pedals and instruments. However, the futuristic-looking controls are all retractable when you’re ready to let the robot take the wheel.
The AI:ME sports a futuristic shape and interior that uses recycled materials, wood and composite materias. It also packs flourishes like mitro-matrix projectors in the lights that can communicate with pedestrians, and actual plants growing from a trellis-like wood structure on the roof. That, presumably, will bring some calming nature to a stressful urban commute.
The EV drivetrain frees up a lot of room in the interior, and that’s where you can see the true intent of the AI:ME. There are retractable foot supports that let you stretch out and Audi’s Holoride virtual reality headset experience borrowed heavily from Renault’s Symbioz. Active noise cancellation and electrochromatic tinted windows will further let you tune out the mean streets. If you get peckish along the way, you can order to stop at your favorite takeout spot, then nosh using the magnetic cup- and plate-holders, along with some institutional-looking metal plates and utensils.
Naturally, you’ll be able to preset your destination, stops, comfort and entertainment needs before setting out, using an app. The car will drop you off and find a parking space on its own, then come and fetch when you’re ready to go. The only problem is that, but much like flying cars, it relies on technology that’s isn’t really close to being ready yet — so keep your chilled-out aspirations in check.