New Audi A8’s self-driving tech to use 'geofencing' to obey local traffic laws

Audi’s latest autonomous car tech in the new A8 could feature a geofencing system to keep it on the right side of the law.

New Audi A8 - A8 L side

The new Audi A8 may use ‘geofencing’ to activate and deactivate its autonomous technologies to comply with regional laws, a senior source at the company has suggested.

The fourth generation of the Ingolstadt brand’s range-topper was revealed in Barcelona last week. It uses more than a dozen sensors, including a front-mounted laser scanner, to offer at least the capability of ‘Level 3’ autonomy. Audi’s implementation of this, called Traffic Jam Pilot, would allow the driver to focus on other activities - including, the firm claims, watching movies on the in-car infotainment system - at speeds of up to 37mph on multi-lane roads where the oncoming traffic is at the other side of a barrier. 

Driverless cars: everything you need to know

However, global legislation is fragmented on autonomous tech - even within Europe, where every country has been making different rates of progress on the laws required to allow drivers to ‘switch off’ behind the wheel. America is potentially even more complex, because legislation rests with states instead of federal government - so Level 3 could, for example, be legal in California and then outlawed a few miles later in Nevada. 

Speaking at the A8 reveal, Audi’s board member for Sales and Marketing, Dietmar Voggenreiter, admitted to Auto Express that the car will have redundant aspects of its autonomous tech, depending on where the vehicle is being used.

“We will use the car’s systems to offer the best assistance services available in any given market,” he said. “This means that the Traffic Jam Pilot will work perfectly but in a lot of countries, because of the legislation, you will have the responsibility, not the car. You’ll have to be close to the steering wheel, keep your hands on the wheel… you know, these things like the 10-second limit between having your hands on the steering wheel. This is the difference between assistance systems and autonomous systems.

“In some markets, or even a lot of markets, we won’t be able to sell a full autonomous driving option. But over the life cycle of six or seven years of the car, we will see in a lot of markets changes in terms of legislation for autonomous driving. And then our car is prepared. The hardware is in, the redundant solutions like steering and braking systems - all of this is in. The car is prepared for Level 3. So if the legislation allows, we can switch it on. 

Autonomous car levels explained 

Voggenreiter stated that the A8 will be able to activate and deactivate its own features if it crosses a country or state border that brings a change in regulation. “We would then use geo-fencing for this,” he said. “We know where the car is and when the car crosses the border we would then switch it [Level 3] off or on, as appropriate. This technology is available. But our wish, hopefully, is that every state in the US and every country will allow autonomous vehicles in the long run.”

Voggenreiter also conceded that other manufacturers may be less willing to assist with lobbying, now that Audi has brought a Level 3-capable vehicle to market. But he added, “It was always clear for us to be first with the technology in the market, and then we have to adapt it to the legal situation. We are now leading, but unfortunately the environment is not prepared yet for this leading technology. We have to see what happens over the lifetime of the A8.”

Get the full story on Audi's new A8 saloon here...

Recommended

Audi A8 review
Audi A8 60 TFSI e - front
Audi A8

Audi A8 review

The Audi A8 features impressive tech and a luxurious interior, but can’t match the Mercedes S-Class for comfort
9 Apr 2022
New 2022 Audi A8: UK prices and specs revealed
Audi A8 facelift - front
Audi A8 Saloon

New 2022 Audi A8: UK prices and specs revealed

Luxury Audi A8 saloon gets styling revisions, improved tech and a bigger battery for the plug-in hybrid, and is priced from £74,985
1 Dec 2021
New Audi A8 2021 review
Audi A8 - front
Audi A8 Saloon

New Audi A8 2021 review

Can revisions to the Audi A8 limo make it a more effective rival for the Mercedes S-Class? We find out…
15 Nov 2021

Most Popular

Range Rover vs Bentley Bentayga: 2022 twin test review
Range Rover vs Bentley Bentayga - both cars front tracking
Car group tests

Range Rover vs Bentley Bentayga: 2022 twin test review

All-new Range Rover takes on Bentley Bentayga in luxury SUV face-off
2 Jul 2022
New 2022 Range Rover Sport: pricing and engines revealed
Range Rover Sport - front
News

New 2022 Range Rover Sport: pricing and engines revealed

The third-generation Range Rover Sport has arrived to challenge the best of the sporty SUV market
5 Jul 2022
All-electric MG 4 to launch in September
MG4 - front static
News

All-electric MG 4 to launch in September

MG says the new MG 4 will be the first in a series of models using MSP architecture
4 Jul 2022