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Audi delays Level 3 autonomous driving launch

The fourth-generation Audi A8 will miss out on eyes-off-the-road self-driving functionality because of legal uncertainty.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung
Journalist
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The current Audi A8 looks set to miss out on its much-vaunted Traffic Jam Pilot eyes-off self-driving system.

When the fourth-generation sedan flagship was launched in 2017, the automaker promised it would add the option of Level 3 autonomous driving within a few years in jurisdictions permitting it.

Hans-Joachim Rothenpieler, head of technical development at Audi, told Automotive News Europe, “Currently, there is no legal framework for Level 3 automated driving and it is not possible to homologate such functions anywhere in the world in a series production car”.

As a result “we will not see the Traffic Jam Pilot on the road with its originally planned Level 3 functionality in the current model generation of the Audi A8 because [it] has already gone through a substantial part of its model life cycle”.

With Audi’s Level 3 system on, the driver is able to take their hands off the steering wheel and keep their eyes off the road, allowing them to potentially watch a video or read a newspaper.

Autonomy would only be available on highways. If the car detects a situation it can’t handle, it will prompt the driver to take control.

Audi delays Level 3 autonomous driving launch
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The Level 3 system differs to Level 2 driver assistance systems from Tesla, Cadillac and Nissan, as they require the driver to keep their eyes on the road and potentially intervene without being prompted.

With a Level 2 system the legal responsibility for the car’s safe operation is solely the driver’s – when a Level 3 system is activated that responsibility shifts to the manufacturer.

Given the legal complexity surrounding Level 3 systems, some automakers and technology companies are planning to skip it entirely and press on with Level 4 and Level 5 fully-autonomous vehicles.

The next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the electric BMW iNext crossover are currently slated to include Level 3 self-driving functionality.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung

Derek Fung would love to tell you about his multiple degrees, but he's too busy writing up some news right now. In his spare time Derek loves chasing automotive rabbits down the hole. Based in New York, New York, Derek loves to travel and is very much a window not an aisle person.

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