In this concept vehicle, Audi brings hammock seating, drones for headlights, self-pressure-regulating tires, and more. Is the Audi AI:TRAIL quattro our off-road vehicle future?
Audi has gone all out with its latest “AI” series all-electric concept vehicle. The Audi AI:TRAIL quattro concept car just debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show with a wild assortment of unique design elements.
This four-seater off-road vehicle is designed to bring occupants out into nature, without all the distracting video screens found in modern vehicles. The entire cabin is surrounded by glass to maximize the feeling of being outside.
The AI:TRAIL should be a decent on-road vehicle as well, as it’s speed-limited to 80 mph. This is to achieve its 155-mile off-road range and 300-mile on-road range. On road, the vehicle can also drive itself — up to level 4 automation — but off road, you’ll have to take the wheel.
Audi AI:TRAIL quattro Off Road
The Audi AI:TRAIL is 13.5 feet long, 7.05 feet wide, and only 5.5 feet high. The overall shape is perfect for even the smallest Jeep trails. It sits on huge 22-inch wheels wrapped in superthin 33.5-inch tires.
The special prototype internal structure of these tires provides 2.4 inches of additional suspension travel to the vehicle. The tires also have a variable sensor-controlled air-pressure-regulation system that continuously adapts the tire pressure to the terrain automatically. This tire system not only provides more travel but also more tire contact patch for improved traction off road and more comfort and control on road.
The entry and exit angles look amazing for tackling any obstacle. They also look like they’d never pass crash-test or pedestrian safety standards. The 13.4-inch ground clearance is solid, but the 1.6-foot water-fording depth is pretty disappointing. I guess all those electronics like to be dry. (For reference, the 2020 Land Rover Defender offers 11.5 inches of ground clearance and nearly a 3-foot water-fording depth.)
The quattro’s all-wheel-drive system features four independent motors, one for each wheel. This system requires no transmission, no lockers, and no low-range transfer box. It should be just as capable as, if not more so than, any current off-road driveline, however.
Audi AI:TRAIL quattro Exterior
The overall design for Audi’s new line of “AI” all-electric vehicle concepts is the “one-box” design. The passenger and cargo compartment is one big unit, with the batteries in the floor and the motors on the axles. Glass is everywhere, even nearly the entire roof and down to the floor. This maximizes passengers’ view of the natural landscape in the AI:TRAIL.
This one-box design, spartan interior, and the use of lightweight materials like aluminum and carbon fiber keep the vehicle weight down to 3,858.09 pounds. While not crazy-lightweight, that is really light for a modern vehicle, especially an all-electric one of this size.
Maybe the craziest thing about the AI:TRAIL concept is the idea that it uses drones mounted with LEDs instead of conventional headlights. Five rotorless, triangular, electrically operated drones fly ahead of the vehicle and illuminate the way. The drones land on the roof of the vehicle when not in use to inductively charge.
It’s a very cool, outside-the-box idea. But imagine all the things that have to go right all the time for this system to work — especially considering you could just use a headlight to do the same thing.
Interior of the AI:TRAIL quattro
Inside this off-roader of the future are a super-basic yoke-style steering wheel, two pedals, and a smartphone mount on the wheel. These are the only driver interfaces with the vehicle, and the only things to distract from the world outside. The front seats are superthin and sport four-point harnesses, ensuring you don’t slide around no matter how rough the terrain becomes.
The back seats are super-unique hammock-like chairs. They not only create fun, comfortable interior seating but can be removed and used around camp. Recycled wool and leather surfaces provide a bit of coziness to an otherwise super-modern metal and glass design.
You’ll also find an Audi Light Companion magnetically attached to the seat. This is basically a crazy flashlight that offers all kinds of lighting features inside and outside the vehicle, and a full host of video cameras to record your adventures.
To top it off, the Light Companion super flashlight is capable of projecting symbols on the ground for turn-by-turn directions during night hikes.
AI:TRAIL quattro Storage
Both the windshield and tailgate open wide for easy and large gear storage. There’s also storage under the windshield and between the seats. Interior straps hold cargo in place.
Integrated into the rear bumper is also a gear storage area for wet or dirty gear. And a huge roof basket option should let you bring along all the adventure gear you might desire.
The Future of Car Ownership
Audi’s concept is to offer specialist vehicle models that can be leased for limited time periods from an Audi on-demand vehicle pool. When you lease an Audi vehicle in this way, you can either pre-configure your vehicle through a new app or have it set up to your preferences that Audi will have on file.
Personal preference configurations will include things like climate control, seat adjustment, and personal music libraries. These personalized settings will be activated in your leased vehicle when you go to pick it up.