Audi released their autonomous electric off-road concept AI:Trail Quattro at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The off-road buggy has drone headlights, hammocks for seats and a full autonomy option. This is definitely not something you would expect from the Audi automaker, but they delivered. This is the fourth in a series of autonomous concepts from Audi.
Looking at the AI:Trail, it has Jeep Wrangler style flat fenders and all-terrain tires running on 22-inch wheels. The AI:Trail is meant to be a capable off-road vehicle. The tires are pushed to the edge without bumpers covering them, giving it better approach and departure angles. Audi says it boasts 13.4 inches of ground clearance, more than either a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon or a Land Rover Defender. Audi confirmed the AI:Trail is designed to drive through up to 1.6 feet of water. The car can automatically adjust the tire pressure, and are a blend of conventional pneumatic tires and the Michelin Tweel.
Quattro remains part of name due to its all-wheel drive feature. It has four electric motors, one for each wheel. This should provide easy torque vectoring and better traction while on adverse terrain. The AI:Trail has 429 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. It is surprisingly light, weighing in at 3,858 pounds. This light weight helps give it a top speed of 81 mph. The range varies from 248 to 310 miles on paved roads compared to about 155 miles if you are on the trails.
All the exterior glass gives the interior a very open presentation. This features also creates an enormous field of vision that is practical when driving off-road. There isn’t much technology in the dashboard, drivers will need to utilize options on their smartphones for advanced features. The buggy has seating for four with conventional seating in the front, but interestingly enough the back seats have a hammock-style seats. The seats can be removed and used outside at the campsite or wherever the adventure takes you. There is plenty of storage in the front and the rear, with the front hood opening like the rear hatch.
The AI:Trail features five drones with lights in place of standard headlights. The dock on the roof rack for charging and can fly in front of the vehicle to provide forward lighting. Audi explains, “Instead of conventional low beams and high beams, the Audi AI:Trail is equipped with a total of five rotorless, triangular, electrically operated drones with integrated matrix LED elements. They are capable of landing on a roof rack or directly on the roof of the vehicle, and docking onto the inductive charging elements. The flying objects are Audi Light Pathfinders, which generate their lift in the same way as blameless fans produce their air flow. Thanks to their markedly lightweight design, they can fly ahead of the AI:Trail, consuming capably little energy in the process, and illuminate the path ahead, thereby replacing headlights entirely. If desired, the on-board cameras generate a video image that can be transmitted to the display in front of the driver via Wi-Fi, turning the Pathfinders into eyes in the sky.” Inside, there are flashlight that also have cameras and tripod legs to capture your adventures. With Level 4 autonomous driving capability, the driver can completely give responsibility over to the vehicle and enjoy the views. Audi confirms that autonomy will help keep the vehicle on clearly marked trails, but doesn’t guarantee objects will be avoided underneath the car. Full autonomy off road will not be an available feature.
Don’t expect a AI:Trail production variant anytime soon. This is a pretty outlandish vehicle and nothing in the Audi playbook is even close to this. However, the concept is a great interpretation of what to expect in the future for high-tech electric off road vehicles.