Audi unveil 'sixth sense' augmented reality in the Q4 e-tron

Ah, this is getting serious

Remember when cars were all about mechanical components and analogue features? Yup. That was then, this is now, and now what we're getting is tech, a lot of tech. Audi unveiled the latest tech geek-friendly feature in the new Q4 E-Tron, a 'sixth sense' augmented reality head-up display. They call it Car-To-X connectivity.

Unlike VR (Virtual Reality), which simulates three-dimensional environments that you can interact with in a seemingly physical way; AR (augmented reality) uses technology to enhance existing and concrete elements of your surroundings to (in this case) transmit and relay information. Application-wise, you're mostly going to use it for safety features.

Usable data and information will be projected on the tarmac ahead of you to make sure it doesn't impede your (physical) view of the road. The car can, for example, help you visualize a potential obstacle before the human eye can see it.

The information will be available for the driver through the head-up display and the 11.6-inch (haptic) touchscreen. These things scare me and fascinate me at the same time. I once had the opportunity to test drive a 'thermal-enhanced' Lexus in LA and the experience was mind-blowing because it used radars and lidars. The lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is basically a clever radar that uses bolt light and pulsed lasers to measure things like range, distance, temperature, etc.

The lidar detects obstacles but it also provides information as to what these obstacles might be. If you're driving at night and it's pitch-black, for example, the lidar can detect a living being on the other side of the road, potentially miles ahead, and tell you whether it's a human being or an animal based on temperature, size and other factors. Crazy stuff.

The problem with tech is that on a purely visceral level we hate it, but then we get used it and it becomes addictive. Think about the million features in your phone you sworn you'd never use. But now we do. But it's alright. I mean, it's just cars.

What's the craziest piece of tech you've used in a car?

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Comments (14)

  • That actually looks useful. Much better than the juvenile and poorly integrated tech that Tesla use. A genuinely useful feature. Well done Audi!

      10 days ago
  • there's a fundamental problem with this. We humans work like this: if something is not necessary, we will stop doing it. It's basic energy conservation.

    This is why we get bad posture from sitting - even after we stood up. The muscles have adapted to not being used. The brain works in much the same way.

    So if a driver can rely in 99% of situations on an AI, his brain will stop tracking the situation. Or, in new drivers, won't even develop this ability. Because it's an effort and we do not do unnecessary effort.

    So then in the 1% of situations where the AI fails, there will nobody at the wheel.

      9 days ago
    • the only way to cheat around this issue is make the AI intervention unwanted. For example, yes, put on the brakes to avoid collision, but do it at the last possible moment and in a way that scares the daylights from the driver.

      It's an aid, but...

      Read more
        9 days ago
  • Seems like another way to disengage and eliminate the driver to me

      9 days ago
  • Even worse drivers incoming

      9 days ago
  • I am waiting for these clever cars to be hacked into by a terrorist group or untrustworthy country as it won't be clever tech then. Obviously no one in the car development group have played the video game Watchdogs Legion as hacking into cars computers is predicted in the future UK setting.

      6 days ago