A Super Hero is put to the test.
There’s one unavoidable roadblock to get through before heading off down the highway to unlimited driving pleasure: the behind-the-wheel test. It’s the big finale after weeks of theory and practice sessions. And although it should be a day to celebrate, the test situation makes many new drivers break out in a cold sweat. Even if it’s not intentional, one person in particular is always responsible for at least some of this misery: the examiner, who wields the power to ultimately decide the outcome. In theory just an innocuous passenger, the examiner in fact has a role that confers power and superiority. Every furtive sideways glance or eyeballing via the mirror reminds the driver of the constant surveillance. No mistake goes unseen. Each infraction is meticulously noted with a ballpoint pen on the test sheet. At the end of the drive, the verdict is pass—or fail. Thumbs up—or down. If you compare city traffic with an arena in ancient Rome, the examiner is essentially the Julius Caesar of the modern era.
The Audi “Driver’s Test” video shows that it’s not just average Joes who get pre-test jitters; Super Heroes also suffer from butterflies when sitting in the driving school reception area waiting for the moment of truth. In this case, it’s none other than Spider-Man himself, aka Peter Parker, who rises nervously from his chair when the instructor enters the room and, with a dramatic look and smug smile, announces, “OK, test time, baby. Let’s go!” He appears to assume that this is just the next in a long line of “geniuses” fated to fail the test. But the story unfolds in a way he never expected. The teenager’s performance anxiety disappears as soon as the pair walks into the parking lot. That’s because the Super Hero in civvies has brought his own impressive set of wheels, whose Singleframe grille sports the four-ringed Audi badge. “Sweet ride for a 15-year-old kid,” the man with the clipboard says. “It’s actually my friend Tony’s. It’s a prototype,” Peter Parker replies.
Fans of the Marvel Universe, which includes Spider-Man, naturally know that “Tony” is Anthony (Tony) Stark—a tech whiz and prosperous captain of industry who transforms into Iron Man when he puts on his intelligent, high-tech suit. So it seems only logical that the Audi prototype being used for this driving test comes equipped with some pretty fascinating gadgetry. Not long after pulling away from the curb, Peter finds himself in his first tight spot. The instructor’s stress level goes up as his student relaxes and fires off glib comebacks. Yet neither is the one to get things under control. In fact, it’s the Audi that takes over. “Here, watch this. I click that button,” says Peter Parker, activating the control marked “Audi AI.” This is another name for the future of mobility: piloted driving.
Peter Parker’s driver’s test gives the audience a fictitious glimpse of what that will look like. The car autonomously ensures it stays in its lane, brakes and accelerates as needed. It even handles the notorious, angst-inducing maneuver toward the end of the test—parallel parking—all on its own. The examiner, played by U.S. comedian J. B. Smoove, is impressed. And a little perplexed. We won’t reveal here whether he lets Parker pass the test—despite the Super Hero receiving a big technical helping hand. To find that out, go to the Audi Summit website (www.summit.audi/A8).
What we will tell you is this: Peter Parker’s car is a prototype from Ingolstadt that closely resembles the new Audi A8. The latter model also has a cameo role in the latest adventure from Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures—Spider-Man: Homecoming—that opened in theaters worldwide in early July. One scene sees Tom Holland, the young British actor who, as of 2016, has succeeded Andrew Garfield in the spider suit, getting his bodyguard Happy Hogan to chauffeur him around in the new Audi A8. This interlude gives moviegoers another impression of how highly automated driving works in traffic jams and makes the driver’s life easier on journeys. With the Audi AI traffic jam pilot activated, the Audi A8 takes over the driving and the steering wheel moves as if by magic. That gives Peter Parker (and his chaffeur) a carefree moment to lean back. After all, even Super Heroes sometimes need a little help. And the built-in technology in the new Audi A8 is happy to do whatever it can.
Spider-Man: Homecoming: A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging super hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine - distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man - but when The Vulture (Michael Keaton) emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.
Today, Audi models are already equipped with innovative assistance systems and pilot functions. When interconnected, these technologies will eventually enable autonomous driving in production cars.
Even a Super Hero needs to take an occasional break: With the Audi AI traffic jam pilot activated, the new Audi A8 takes over the driving during a jam, giving Peter a carefree moment to lean back.
* The assistance systems or automated technologies shown here and presented in the fictitious action film are currently still in development and are not available in serial vehicles.
In most countries, piloted/automated driving is currently not legally permitted for use in public road traffic.
Further photo credits: Chuck Zlotnick/Sony pictures