New philosophy for dashboard instrumentation, infotainment and comfort systems is expected to be installed in next year's new flagship saloon
Matt Burt
31 August 2016

Audi has revealed more details of the next evolution of its digital cockpit technology, elements of which are highly likely to reach production in the new Audi A8 next year.

First seen in the Audi Q6 e-tron quattro concept car, and then shown off at the CES electronics show in January, the new virtual dashboard builds upon the virtual cockpit technology already available in many of Audi’s road cars.

At present the virtual dashboard is only a concept, showing a “starkly reduced dashboard” in which a total of three digital displays are responsible for the display and control of all functions and information.

The first screen, positioned in the driver’s direct field of vision and serving as the instrument panel, is a very thin, curved OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen that’s 14.1in diagonally across and has a 2240x720 pixel resolution. The slightly curved surface ensures that the driver can always read the displays without glare.

Controlled via the multifunction steering wheel, it is similar in function to Audi’s current virtual cockpit and in standard form it displays information such as speed, battery charge status and remaining electric range.

Additionally, virtual dashboard features two touch screens in the centre console. The upper screen shows regular infotainment content for controlling navigation and media functions, while the lower screen is used for text input and to operate the aircon. All of the key functions the driver may need are integrated into these two displays, which can be personalised.

The screens operations use haptic feedback, where the user hears a noise and feels a vibration whenever they press a button. Audi electronics expert Andreas Lamprecht said this provides two key benefits over traditional touchscreens: “First, the user avoids inadvertent operation such as that which might occur as they are travelling down a bumpy road and trying to use a function.

“Second, you can feel in your fingertip if the button has worked, so there’s no need to repeatedly prod the screen, so it is less distracting.”

Unlike current Audi models, there is no rotary control knob to operate the screens’ functions. “The reason is that everyone has smart phones and is familiar with touchscreens, and we want to react to that,” said Lamprecht.

“The general philosophy of the split screens and the haptic feedback systems will be in production cars in less than one year. It really is just around the corner,” he added.

Although he wouldn’t be drawn on which model would get the technology first, Lamprecht confirmed that “Obviously it is a technology that will start in our big cars and work down through the range.” With the next A8 due to launch in 2017, it makes sense that it will be first to receive the technology.

To start with, the system will use standard LED and LCD screens as opposed to the OLEDs featured on the concept.

“The OLED technology will not be coming yet,” said Lamprecht. “The temperature resistance and lifecycle of the screens are not yet at Audi’s standards. It will take a couple of years.”

The fully digital implementation of the new dashboard will lay a foundation for a system that will eventually be capable of learning about the use patterns of individual customers and personalising the car’s functions around them.

Our Verdict

Audi A8

The Audi A8 is a highly capable and desirable luxury saloon that's very easy to live with, despite its flaws

Join the debate

Comments
11

TS7

1 September 2016
...a, rather basic, touchscreen radio in a car I remain completely unconvinced that it is the way forward.

1 September 2016
Unless Audi have truly come up with something new, I am prepared to be disappointed. Too often, sleek and modern is also fiddly, hard to see, prone to dirt accumulation or otherwise annoying. Can Audi beat the combined on/off/volume knob for ease of use? Who doesn't have a computerized washing machine with about 27 programs but you only ever use 2 and the CPU craps out in less than 3 years, while the old one you moved to the garage runs and runs and runs?

1 September 2016
The problem with next gen technology is that it's very soon previous gen. Think of the brand new mobile phone you had 10 years ago, it was amazing, you loved it, how outdated and old fashioned would it seem today. Give me a knob to twiddle any day.

 

1 September 2016
You can't really beat an actual physical control...ok suppose the fuse for the screen goes "wonky" and unresponsive like on an android tablet requiring a reboot, what happens when it gets months of dirt on it...are you supposed to "reboot" the car.
More showroon technology from audi.

tlb

1 September 2016
People made exactly the same comments when the iphone/ipad (and non-Apple versions) were launched but they have completely changed the way that people interact with their cell phone and computer. It is inevitable that those changes will transfer to all media devices, including cars. What I note in these shots is the extra space provided by larger, multiple screens allows the buttons to be bigger, mitigating the major problem with non-physical controls which was that they are fiddly/dangerous to use.

TS7

1 September 2016
...people look at their phones when using them. Physical controls can be manipulated purely by touch, it takes very little time to become familiar with radio, climate control etc. buttons. To take ones eyes off the road is inherently dangerous.

2 September 2016
tlb wrote:

People made exactly the same comments when the iphone/ipad (and non-Apple versions) were launched but they have completely changed the way that people interact with their cell phone and computer. It is inevitable that those changes will transfer to all media devices, including cars. What I note in these shots is the extra space provided by larger, multiple screens allows the buttons to be bigger, mitigating the major problem with non-physical controls which was that they are fiddly/dangerous to use.

Yes we got used to iphone and ipads, but the first is now 9 years old and the second 6. How many 1st generation ipads are still in use, how many 1st generation iphone in particular. The majority are replaced every 18months to 2 years when the next model comes out with a better screen, processor or must have gizmo. You can't just bin a car and replace it so easily. Also when I use my smart phone or tablet I look at it, When I'm driving a car I look at the road, so I need a physical button I can feel and hold, not a space on a screen to aim my digit at + plus a menu to read to access the heater or radio sub-section

 

tlb

8 September 2016
Leslie Brook wrote:
tlb wrote:

People made exactly the same comments when the iphone/ipad (and non-Apple versions) were launched but they have completely changed the way that people interact with their cell phone and computer. It is inevitable that those changes will transfer to all media devices, including cars. What I note in these shots is the extra space provided by larger, multiple screens allows the buttons to be bigger, mitigating the major problem with non-physical controls which was that they are fiddly/dangerous to use.

Yes we got used to iphone and ipads, but the first is now 9 years old and the second 6. How many 1st generation ipads are still in use, how many 1st generation iphone in particular. The majority are replaced every 18months to 2 years when the next model comes out with a better screen, processor or must have gizmo. You can't just bin a car and replace it so easily. Also when I use my smart phone or tablet I look at it, When I'm driving a car I look at the road, so I need a physical button I can feel and hold, not a space on a screen to aim my digit at + plus a menu to read to access the heater or radio sub-section

All modern cars have a pretty powerful CPU running things so whether the input is a physical button or a touchscreen is irrelevant - and these units shouldn't need replacing/upgrading. The reason an ipad needs updating is that it gets more and more demanding software (and OS') installed throughout its life - which doesn't happen in a car. Of course if the manufacturer installs an inadequate CPU to run the touchscreen system that's a problem (I'm looking at you JLR), but it's one present from day one. I'm not saying everyone will learn to prefer touch-screens, but there are plenty of tools (e.g. haptic feedback) that can assist people in using them without staring at the screen - and the iphone generation will adapt to them pretty seamlessly.

1 September 2016
on the continued unbeatable quality Audi put to their interiors and its how they sell their cars..because the environment you sit in is worth 10 times whats outside. Not the outside is bad either

what's life without imagination

1 September 2016
Will always prefer the look of analogue instruments over digital. Put this way, would you take a digital watch over a Rolex?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK