Tech inside

Each year in December, the Design Miami/ show brings together an international audience and creatives from the fields of design, architecture and urban planning. As the exclusive automotive sponsor, Audi is not only present behind the scenes but actively shapes the design show with its own installations.

Birte Mußmann (copy) & AUDI AG (photo & video)

At this year’s Design Miami/, Audi for the first time presented the “Audi Motherboard,” a replica of an original test system from the Technical Development department at Audi illustrating the complexity of the new Audi A8, which was likewise exhibited at the show. Usually, the complex technology is elegantly hidden away in a production car. But at the design show, it was fully exposed without a body for presentation purposes. The mock-up featured an almost complete set of Audi A8 electronic components arranged side by side—giving visitors a fascinating insight into the work environment of the tech and electronics experts at Audi. Similar test facilities are used in the carmaker’s research and development activities, not just for the Audi A8 but for all models bearing the legendary four rings. From navigation display through airbag control unit and window regulators to tail light modules, all electronic components are mounted on three boards. On the reverse, there is a multitude of wires linking them all together. The network is divided up by what are known as bus systems whose job is to ensure that the individual control units can communicate with the corresponding components and keep the huge amounts of data flowing in a structured way. Building such a test board is a precision operation taking several days to accomplish, even for experienced professionals. Using PCs and appropriate software, the Audi tech experts can analyze what’s going on and test the components—individually and collectively—with the aid of the setup on the board.

Additional information: Audi and Design Miami/ are longstanding partners: Audi has been the show’s exclusive automotive sponsor since 2006. The carmaker based in Ingolstadt has for many years played an active role in the show with its own installations. Each of these installations highlights key technology and design elements, placing them in context with the latest developments in design, urban planning and architecture. Last year, for example, Audi joined forces with the LEGO Group to present an installation entitled “The Extra Hour,” illustrating the key customer benefit provided by autonomous driving: more freedom thanks to more time. This was symbolized by a giant clock face showing an extra 25th hour. The Audi RS 7 piloted driving concept was the clock hand pointing to the number 25.

Visitors to the Design Miami/ show were not only able to gain an impression, via the Audi Motherboard, of how electronic components are tested. They also got to see highlights of the new Audi A8, including optional and standard info and entertainment features. Thanks to the systematic use of touch displays with haptic feedback and a reduction in the number of conventional switches and buttons, the vehicle offers a new driver experience—now more intuitive than ever. The Audi A8 is also one of the first production cars worldwide to be designed for SAE Level 3 automated driving and comes optionally with the Audi AI traffic jam pilot*. At the driver’s request, the Audi AI traffic jam pilot can take over driving on multilane roads in slow-moving traffic at speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour, provided this is allowed by local law. Responsibility for remaining sufficiently alert and performing driving tasks rests at all times with the driver. The Audi AI traffic jam pilot* as well as other—both optional and standard—driver assistance systems are based on constant and, in key areas, redundant monitoring of the vehicle’s surroundings. For this an array of sensors is available, including radar and ultrasonic sensors, cameras and a laser scanner. Data from the sensors is merged into a comprehensive model of the surroundings in the central driver assistance controller (zFAS) and fed to numerous driver assistance functions. The whole thing is made possible by the interplay of many different elements. So the components arranged on the Audi Motherboard are not just exhibits. They are messengers. And their message—valid beyond Design Miami/—is Vorsprung durch Technik.

* The assistance systems/automated technologies described here are still under development and not available in production vehicles. The Audi AI traffic jam pilot is not yet available as an optional extra. Your Audi partner will be pleased to inform you about the exact date of introduction. In most countries, piloted/automated driving is currently not legally approved for use on public roads. Please also note in general that assistance systems can only support the driver within the specified system limits. Responsibility for remaining sufficiently alert and performing driving tasks rests at all times with the driver.

Audi A8 / A8 L fuel consumption combined (in l/100 km): 8,0-5,6; CO2 emissions combined (in g/km): 182-145. Where stated in ranges, fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and efficiency classes depend on tires/wheels used.

Further information on official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the guide “Information on the fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electricity consumption of new cars”, which is available free of charge at all sales dealerships and from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Strasse 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen, Germany (