Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is one of life’s supreme drags, eating up hours that could be spent doing anything else besides inching forward while cars on the side of the barricade whiz by in the other opposite direction. It was just such a scenario that gave birth to the EV A2, Audi’s new concept car, which takes over in congested traffic and frees you up to do other things--like using the built-in Wi-Fi to complain on Facebook about how it’s taken you three hours to move less than a mile.
The squat, compact A2, introduced yesterday at the Frankfurt Motor Show, also has a touchscreen user interface designed to assume such burdensome peripheral duties as turning on the high beams and windshield wipers. What else won’t you have to worry about? Straining your wrist on door handles. This model has none, as the doors open and close in response to gestural commands. Sweet, I guess.
The driver-less A2 is actually something of a logical conclusion, given Audi’s joint venture with Stanford in creating a self-driving car. That technology is actually here, and it works. (And cars operating in greater synch might be the only way to alleviate our present traffic problems.) But that may not be the point: Something like the Audi A2 would probably work best if it were fully self-driving; the ability to engage and disengage that feature would surely create some pretty horrifying/hilarious accidents. Granted, commercial airplanes already fly on auto-pilot for the greater share of many journeys, but the saving grace is that the procedures around its use are highly regimented (and those pilots also don’t fly solo). Would it possible to design some of the regimented behavior into a driver-less car?