How confident is Audi in its Traffic Jam Assist hardware? According to Alex Vukotich, Audi’s head of automated driving, “it’s meant to be a Level 3 System, so the driver can really relax, can do something else. He doesn’t have to be in charge of observing what the system is doing, the system will do everything.”
Despite haptic and audible feedback to confirm each “button” press, our taps on both screens repeatedly went unacknowledged as we pecked at MMI in a parked car. Swipe and pinch gestures were frequently met with slow, staggering responses as the map was redrawn. The formerly intuitive, beautiful, and powerful MMI appears to have lost its edge with this latest generation. We are grateful that the company at least retained the volume knob and the ability to nudge it left or right to change the audio track or radio station.
In Audi’s parlance, the A8’s autonomous features translate as the “AI traffic jam pilot,” meaning the car can take control of the driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 60 kilometers per hour. The system is activated by a button on the center console, and it can take over acceleration, braking, steering, and starting from a dead-stop, all without the driver paying attention.
The car takes care of acceleration, steering, braking and starting from a dead stop and does so without the driver having to pay attention up to 37 miles per hour. Audi notes that drivers, “can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and, depending on the national laws, focus on a different activity that is supported by the car, such as watching the on-board TV.” The driver can’t completely check out though, if the car determines it can no longer safely drive on its own, the human will have to take over. That means no naps.