Comprehensive networking –
Audi connect and driver assistance systems
The new A3 benefits fully from Audi’s leadership role in electrical and electronic systems within the global automotive industry. All systems of the new premium compact car are networked with one another. The brand is offering new technologies that underscore its special position in the premium compact segment in its Audi connect technology and driver assistance systems.
The term Audi connect covers all applications and developments that network the car with its owner, the Internet, infrastructure and other vehicles. Currently, mobile radio network communication is implemented via UMTS. In the near future, developers are counting on the fast LTE standard, which will enable the exchange of large amounts of data.
To conveniently access the new Audi connect services, A3 customers have a wide variety of optional infotainment systems to choose from – where the top system is MMI navigation plus. This high-end system is very appealing with a very flat, electrically retractable seven-inch monitor and new user control concept, in which MMI touch is integrated for the first time in the form of a rotary pushbutton.
A broad array of assistance systems is offered in the A3 for a comfortable and superior driving experience. They range from adaptive cruise control to park assist and the Audi pre sense basic safety system.
MMI navigation plus
MMI navigation plus is the top system in the infotainment area. Along with its DVD drive, it also integrates a 64 GB hard drive for navigation, telephone and music data.
The A3 is the first model from Audi to offer features from the modular infotainment system (MIB), which is part of the modular transverse platform (MQB). In introducing this new architecture, Audi addresses the tremendous challenge posed by innovations in consumer electronics and the rapid growth in computing power, which are outpacing the product cycles of automotive OEMs.
The central computer, which is housed in the glove box of the Audi A3, consists of two units – the Radio Car Control Unit and what is known as the MMX board (MMX= Multi-Media eXtension). Its modular layout permits simple updating of the hardware – the system can always be kept up-to-date by replacing the MMX board. Along with its working and flash memories, the plug-in module integrates the latest Tegra 2 processor from Nvidia, which can handle all voice control, online, media, navigation and telephone functions.
Since 2005, Audi has been cultivating a joint venture with the market leader for visual computing technologies from Santa Clara, California. Now the two partners are initiating the next stage of their joint work: the new Audi A3 utilizes the T 20 processor from the Tegra 2 series – a dual core processor with a 1.2 GHz clock frequency and a faster graphics card. It accelerates playback of many audio and video formats such as mp3 audio and mpeg4 video. The T 20 processor works together with a graphics program from the specialist Rightware; with this combination, Audi is the first carmaker to present three-dimensional graphics in its vehicles.
Images supplied by the Tegra 2 processor are capably reproduced by the seven-inch monitor of the MMI navigation plus system. With its high resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, the display outputs razor-sharp images in brilliant colors, while efficient LEDs create its backlighting.
The monitor extends electrically from the instrument panel and is angled slightly towards the driver. It measures just eleven millimeters (0.43 inch) thick, no thicker than one of today’s smart phones. Its cover glass is mounted directly to the surface of the TFT screen in a special lamination process. No air remains between the display glass and cover glass, which improves optical performance. The painted housing is produced from ultra-lightweight magnesium, which saves about 50 grams in weight. High-gloss and chrome components accentuate its elegance.
The MMI terminal is used to control functions in the new Audi A3. Its central component is a newly developed component, in which a touchpad – MMI touch – and the rotary pushbutton come together. The cap of the control wheel has a touch-sensitive surface. Its movement is highly precise, and it has a precisely defined detent; the wheel has a ring surround that is illuminated by LED and light conductor.
MMI touch operates with handwriting recognition. The driver writes letters or numbers that he or she wishes to enter for navigation or a phone call on the touch-sensitive screen by fingertip – a quick, safe and intuitive method. The system provides acoustic feedback after each character is input. MMI touch will be of special interest to Asian customers, because it can process over ten thousand characters in their languages.
Two rocker switches at the front of the MMI terminal are used to directly access key areas of telephone/navigation and media/radio; they are supplemented by a menu button and a back button. The switches are trimmed in chrome, like the four softkeys for navigating through the menus. An audio volume control with integrated skip function completes the MMI terminal in the new Audi A3.
The user menus have a new layout. In the Media area, for example, the player and the media library are separate from one another, and a text search can be used to find titles, albums and covers directly. Under Navigation, the point of interest search has been simplified, and traffic information online can be called up from the map. Audi connect services are combined in a single dedicated menu. The Audi drive select vehicle dynamics system is operated from the CAR menu, and many of the telephone functions have been improved.
As an alternative to manual user control at the MMI terminal, an intelligent voice control system is available. The driver can use it to input the name of the city and street in a single command and to control the telephone, Audi connect services and music playback.
Audi Phone Box
Another option available in the new A3 is the Audi Phone Box; it conveniently couples cell phones of any type to the car. Its key component is a universal planar antenna, which is integrated in the upholstered storage tray of the center armrest. The flat planar antenna takes signals from the telephone, with which it communicates by near-field coupling, and routes them to the vehicle antenna via an amplifier. The power supply for the cell phone runs over a USB port in the Audi Phone Box; over the mid-term, Audi is working on a solution for contactless charging.
Audi connect with car phone
The optional Bluetooth online car phone system, which goes by the name “Audi connect with car phone” in the A3, connects to the Internet via a UMTS module that is integrated in the MMI navigation plus system. The Bluetooth car phone can be operated from the MMI terminal, multifunction steering wheel or by voice control. Phone and data signals are transmitted via the roof antenna. To go online, all the driver needs to do is insert a data-capable SIM card in the card reader. As an alternative, the driver can link a cell phone directly by entering a SIM access profile.
The WLAN hotspot, an integrated feature of the system, lets the front and rear passengers connect up to eight mobile devices with the new A3 – from iPhones to laptops. Then they can surf and email at their leisure – data is encrypted to the WPA2 standard.
For the driver, Audi connect with car phone provides such customized services as travel and weather information. With myAudi, the driver can plan a driving route on a home computer, save a profile at www.audi.de and load it into the car before the drive begins. If desired, the driver can view the map with background aerial and satellite images from Google Earth.
A particularly attractive service is Audi online traffic information. This service represents traffic flow data on the navigation map. If traffic over the route chosen by the driver has free-flowing traffic, the route is shown in green; yellow indicates dense traffic, and red signifies a traffic jam. In this case, Audi online traffic information displays a text describing the traffic problem and suggests an alternate route that does not lead right to another traffic jam.
The Audi system is faster, more precise and more intelligent than conventional TMC and TMC pro solutions, and it also covers cities and country roads. The primary source of data for the database is from the hundreds of thousands of smart phones and navigation devices that are carried in vehicles which report their current positions to service providers at short time intervals over the cell phone network. A detailed picture of the traffic load situation emerges from the conditioned data. Audi online traffic information is available in European countries.
Another Audi connect service is the point of interest (POI) search, which can be operated by voice control. The A3 driver only needs to select a destination and speak the desired term of interest – such as the name of a known restaurant. The voice command, or “voice tag”, is converted to a data packet that is sent to the Google search engine.
In this example, the responses appearing on the monitor would often include the telephone number of the restaurant and various other information. A quick click, and a table can be reserved by phone call. The POI search function is quite flexible: a driver might input the term “flowers” – and the response would be a list of florist shops.
The Google Maps Street View function assists in visual orientation. Here, the driver gets an advance view of the street at the destination in 360-degree panoramic images. Google Maps Street View interacts closely with Google Earth navigation – when the global map is zoomed, as soon as the scale reaches 30 meters (98.43 ft), the street view appears as a final step.
Another function in the A3 is the smart phone app Audi music stream. Using this function and UPNP (Universal Plug and Play) technology, the user can receive broadcasts from over 3,000 Internet radio stations. Personal favorites can be saved to a cell phone, and they can be played via the MMI navigation plus system. The sound is output over the car’s audio system.
Other new Audi connect app-based services are available in the A3, which the customer can customize to individual needs on a cell phone or personal computer as well. The online news service lets users select their preferred news sources (RSS feeds) at myAudi.de. While driving, the voice output function can be used; when the vehicle is stopped, news texts also appear on the MMI monitor.
Audi connect also integrates the online community services Facebook and Twitter in the infotainment system in a vehicle-friendly way. Along with the read-aloud function, the A3 offers a practical text function: prepared text components combined with data such as the momentary location, to inform friends of where a person is located. At the same time, the Facebook service can assist in finding a friend who is communicating their positional data – this might be practical, for example, if travel companions have lost contact with one another on a joint vacation trip.
Audi connect’s Service City Events provides information about events, concerts and other activities at the travel destination or locally – the read-aloud function is also an option here Using airplane and train information from Audi connect, the driver can conveniently call up departure times, track numbers and gates and obtain information on any delays. Flight numbers can be input directly into a search function, and key information can be read aloud if desired. The refueling service lists the best refueling stations at the destination or locally; the function also takes into account the type of fuel needed.
Audi is making great strides in advancing the networking of its vehicles. New technologies, e.g. in seamless media usage, are increasingly making cars with the four rings more of an experiential space. Audi is building up its own IT capacities in a large way. Over the mid-term, the brand is focusing on Car-to-X communication, i.e. information exchange with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure. This will open up many new possibilities for making driving even more safe, relaxed and economical.
Driver assistance systems
Today, Audi is already setting new standards for driver assistance systems in the A3 – introducing technologies from the luxury class into the premium compact segment. Several optional systems and one standard solution are offered in the new A3.
The driver information system with rest recommendation is a standard feature which assesses the momentary attentiveness of the driver from various sources of vehicle information. If it concludes that the driver's attentiveness is waning, it recommends a break from driving via an indicator in the driver information system. The driver is also alerted to the rest recommendation by an acoustic signal. The system is activated at a vehicle speed of 65 km/h (40.39 mph), and it can be deactivated at any time – like any of the assistance systems from Audi.
Of the optional driver assistance systems in the new A3, adaptive cruise control (ACC) is the most complex. This radar-based system – offered in the base version of the premium compact – maintains the desired distance to the vehicle ahead by autonomously accelerating and braking within certain limits over speeds ranging from 30 to 150 km/h (18.64 to 93.21 mph). The driver can set the distance and the control dynamics over four levels. If the car has the assistance package, which combines several systems, the control range is extended to 200 km/h (124.27 mph).
In conjunction with S tronic, the ACC adds the stop & go function. This function can to brake to a stop when a vehicle in front is stopping, and it can automatically resume driving if the stopped phase lasts less than three seconds.
The pre sense front system, which is integrated in the radar sensor network, detects critical approach situations to other vehicles within system constraints. In case of an impending collision, the system warns the driver acoustically and then by a warning jolt in the brake system. If the driver intervenes and brakes, the system supports the intended braking so that a collision can be avoided. If the driver does not react, the system initiates partial braking to reduce the speed at impact.
At speeds under 30 km/h (18.64 mph), pre sense front can brake the new A3 autonomously with nearly full braking power in an emergency. It slows the vehicle’s speed at impact and therefore reduces the severity of the accident; in many cases, this function can even avoid a collision altogether.
Another high-end option is the safety system Audi pre sense basic. If it detects an unstable driving state via the sensors of electronic stabilization control (ESC), it electrically pretensions the front seatbelts reversibly. Reversible partial or full tensioning is executed, depending on the situation. In a skidding situation, it also initiates closing of the optional sunroof and the side windows.
If a collision does occur, the driver is supported by the secondary-collision brake assistant: This can reduce the risk of continued skidding and secondary collisions in the accident sequence by automatically initiating braking.
Occupants are also protected by a package of restraint systems with seven airbags, including a knee airbag for the driver. After an accident, the hazard flasher is activated, and the interior lights are switched on.
The optional Audi side assist supports the driver in changing lanes. From a vehicle speed of 30 km/h (18.64 mph), radar sensors at the rear monitor what is happening behind the A3. A yellow LED in the door mirror housing lights if another vehicle is driving in the blind spot or is rapidly approaching from the rear. If the driver still activates the turn signal for a lane change, the indicator turns bright and flashes at a high frequency – a very effective warning signal.
Audi active lane assist becomes active at a speed of 65 km/h (40.39 mph). It detects lane markings on the roadway based on images from a small video camera mounted on the rear-view mirror. If the A3 approaches a lane marking without activating the turn signal, the system assists the driver in steering back into the lane by making a slight intervention in the electromechanical steering system. The driver defines how early the intervention should be made from the MMI user interface.
If the driver selects “late,” the system intervenes just before crossing over a detected lane marking. This function can help to prevent the car from leaving the driving lane unintentionally, e.g. due to driver inattentiveness. If the driver selects “early,” Audi active lane assist continually assists with gentle interventions to keep the vehicle in the center of the driving lane. This new generation of lane-keeping assistance can offer continuous relief to the driver, enhancing driving comfort.
Another system benefits from the video camera used by Audi active lane assist: traffic sign detection. It displays speed limit and other signs such as no passing zones on the driver information system screen.
Audi offers a number of systems that make parking easy – the top system is park assist. It relieves the driver of steering work when parking in parallel or perpendicular parking spaces; if necessary, it can steer in multiple forward and reverse maneuvers. Its twelve ultrasonic sensors detect obstacles around the car. Park assist can be supplemented by a rear-view camera.
The equipment, data, and prices specified refer to the model range offered in Germany. Subject to change without notice; errors and omissions excepted.