The new taxi-like conveyance comes from Audi’s e-tron division, which has been getting a lot of press for the past couple of years. The company’s Sportback concept appeared in 2017 as a populist solution for private ownership; a GT, a supercar—the PB18 concept—and an e-tron Q4 followed…with a Formula E racer emphasizing track-cred along the way.
This newest idea from e-tron is presently called the AI:ME concept. AI is borrowed from Audi’s AIcon, an inquiry into what automated long-distance operation would look like. AIcon sees in this little car an urban future.
Like Volvo’s 360c autonomous concept, the little Audi’s design describes what one might be doing in a car…if the car itself was doing the driving. Volvo’s concept imagines tete-a-tete meetings, a bit of kip, and perhaps a spot of refreshment on the highway of the near future. Audi’s level 4 autonomous concept finds a similar luxuriant ease, of course. But only in the city. Traditional controls allow for ‘manual’ operation when outside of urban areas.
The car’s level of interactivity is fascinating. The system monitors eye tracking with an OLED windscreen monitor, and registers input through occupants’ voices, and there are touch-sensitive fields in the door.
There’s a lot more to the story, of course—VR, noise-cancelling interiors, and real plants used for decoration and improved air quality—as Audi refines their vision for urban transport in the coming decades.