Innovative lighting technology
The new Audi A8's tubular-look front headlights are not merely a design element, even though their appearance is certainly not a secondary issue. The titanium-coloured base of the light units behind the clear-glass cover makes the reflectors appear light, as if floating. The lack of decorative ridging in the cover glass emphasises the brilliant appearance of the headlights.
The headlights are available in three versions: firstly, as ellipsoidal main headlights and, secondly, with high-luminosity xenon Plus technology. The xenon Plus lights contain an ellipsoidal module with the latest-generation system which uses a moving shutter to produce both the dipped and the main beam.
The xenon Plus lights are combined with the automatic dynamic headlight range control function. This adjusts the angle of the headlights not only in changing load conditions, but also dynamically in response to a change in angle caused by acceleration or braking. This helps the driver considerably and increases safety because it prevents the range of vision from being reduced and oncoming vehicles from being dazzled.
Cornering lights: adaptive light
A new feature at Audi is the third headlight version: the "adaptive light" cornering lights in conjunction with xenon Plus headlights.
Adaptive light is identifiable by the additional lighting tubes installed between the dipped-beam and high-beam headlights. These auxiliary headlights form part of a highly complex system: the central control unit evaluates a number of parameters, such as speed, steering angle and operation of the turn indicators, and activates the additional reflector at speeds of up to 70 km/h and with the dipped beam switched on.
When the car is turning or on a tight bend, this headlight can illuminate areas that were previously in the dark. Other road users and obstructions can thus be identified sooner - a clear safety gain.
The areas additionally illuminated are directly adjacent to the dipped beam and extend to around 90 degrees in relation to the direction of travel. The speed at which the intensity of the light is increased and reduced is regulated so as to make sure that the driver is not distracted by severe changes in brightness.
When reversing, adaptive light automatically activates both cornering lights. This significantly increases the peripheral zone that is visible to the driver around the vehicle's front end, meanwhile heightening the awareness of other road users to the manoeuvring vehicle.
LED lights at the rear and turn indicators
The rear lights, too, have something new to offer: their covers conceal LED diodes for the tail and brake lights and also for the turn indicators. The use of this principle in addition offers greater design freedom because light-emitting diodes achieve brilliant depth while at the same time taking up significantly less space.
They also bring functional advantages: as well as their longer operating life, they are in particular much more responsive. Whereas conventional bulbs take around 200 milliseconds to reach their full brightness, LEDs achieve their full output in less than one millisecond. Drivers following behind will thus recognise much more quickly that the brake lights have come on.
The LED turn indicators provide a more precise contrast and signal pattern, thus attracting attention much more effectively. The front turn indicators on the new A8 incorporate newly developed high-performance bulbs. These are more compact in design and use 25 percent less power. And their operating life is appreciably longer than that of conventional bulbs - in fact, they are designed to outlive the car itself.
The side indicators on the new A8 use LED technology. The car's visual appearance benefits from the fact that while the LEDs light up yellow when switched on, they are neutral in colour when deactivated.
MMI Multi Media Interface
In the guise of the integrated user interface MMI, Audi is offering an infotainment platform and operating concept for the new A8 that are noted for their ease of operation, perfect location and a consistent inherent operating logic.
MMI thus reduces the driver's workload and enables him to concentrate fully on the main task of driving the car safely.
The A8 driver nevertheless does not have to forgo the possibilities offered by modern infotainment and communication systems. On the contrary, MMI actually makes a greater range of functions available and is the ideal basis for incorporating further features in future.
Maintaining diversity, reducing complexity
The combination of mobility and communication has long since been a firmly established feature of modern cars. The car as a place in which many people spend a large part of their time means an increasingly wide range of technical systems which naturally offer a variety of characteristics, and not all pleasant. This is because the range of possibilities often goes hand in hand with a multitude of specific display and operating concepts.
As far as the driver is concerned, this means a constantly growing amount of information to be taken in and equally increasing potential for being distracted while driving. In other words, user "unfriendliness".
To escape from this dilemma, the most important development goals for MMI were therefore to bring together the user interfaces of all relevant systems at a central location and for them all to be based on the same operating principles.
The development of MMI therefore involved a constant dialogue between design, ergonomics and technical departments right from the very start. After all, one thing was clear: as the comprehensive, self-contained control centre aspired for, the system inevitably forms the focal point of the interior.
The objective therefore was not only to integrate MMI harmoniously into the overall ergonomic package, which includes seat and arm position, for example. The development team also wanted to make sure that they avoided implanting an exclusively function-oriented "alien" system in the stylish ambience of a luxury saloon. It was important to them that the system was designed as a integral part of the overall design right from the start.
The geometry of the controls
MMI in the first instance comprises the control panel (MMI terminal) in the centre console with a control button that can be turned and pressed and four control keys grouped around it.
On either side of the terminal - apart from the Return key for exiting the menu level - there are a total of eight function keys with which the user can call up the principal main menus directly.
The terminal's position has been ergonomically optimised to ensure that the controls can be reached comfortably and without obliging the driver to alter his seated posture while driving.
The second central component of the MMI, the MMI display, a 7-inch colour monitor, is positioned above the centre console in the dashboard and therefore at an optimum angle of view for the driver.
The basic structure of the screen representation corresponds in detail to the arrangement of the control keys and button on the MMI terminal, permitting an intuitive association between visual perception and hand movements.
In other words, the driver uses the top left control key to select the function displayed in the top left corner of the screen.
If the MMI display is not active, the monitor can be retracted neatly into the wooden trim insert.
Easy learning process
The driver only needs to remember four basic rules for operating the MMI:
1. The main functions of the system - entertainment, communication, information and control of vehicle systems - are accessed by the eight permanently assigned function keys.
The more frequently a function is used in the car, the higher up the menu structure it is placed, thus making it quicker and easier to access.
The information shown on the central display in the instrument cluster is limited to driver-relevant functions such as on-board computer, navigation and cruise control. In addition, frequently used infotainment functions - radio station selection or volume control, for example - are offered via this graphics capable display. These functions can be selected at the buttons and menu roller controls on the multifunction steering wheels.