CES 2020

Meet the Audi AI:ME, a futuristic third place for autonomous vehicle occupants

Audi introduced the AI:ME concept car at CES 2020.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Starbucks used to be the go-to third space for people not wanting to go to work or be at home. Audi is taking that idea one step further with the debut of the AI:ME concept vehicle.

The model features futuristic technology like eye tracking to communicate with the car when using things like gesture control or tapping a screen become too taxing. Audi fantasizes that the vehicle's occupants could enjoy a "wellness experience" consisting of donning a pair of virtual reality goggles and "flying" over a mountain landscape.

Audi AI:ME

Audi AI:ME

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi says that the concept car would adapt virtual content to the movement of the vehicle in real time allowing passengers to truly relax and get away from their hectic routine. So, basically the opposite of hopping on the train to get to work.

Technology in the car could also be used to order food and have it delivered to a vehicle's destination at the appropriate time using personal preferences and the vehicle's navigation data.

The concept car features the "Audi Intelligence Experience", which the automaker says makes the car think for itself, getting to know a user's habits. This technology is already integrated into the current generation Audi MMI system. In that form it saves preferred destinations; connects drivers with the date, time and current traffic situation; and it derives suggested routes from this data. In the future it could "conduct a precise analysis of the functions and settings that its user prefers, ranging from the seat position, media, route guidance and temperature to the fragrance of the interior" according to a release.

There are currently no autonomous vehicles for sale today, despite the keywords used and hype generated in media.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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Just 55 of the SUV will be built.

Mercedes

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class is an aspirational vehicle, and is one that shouts "I've made it" to the world. Its six-figure price tag legitimate military background, and hardcore off-road capabilities make it appealing on many levels, and there's even a go-fast version from AMG. The G63 cranks up the already bonkers G-Class to 11, with a big V8 and aggressive styling. To commemorate AMG's 55th year tuning Mercedes' vehicles, the automaker is releasing a limited "Edition 55" G 63.

Mercedes-AMG G 63 "Edition 55"The Edition 55 gets unique styling touches inside and out. Mercedes

Though the Edition 55 adds plenty of unique flair to the AMG-massaged G-Wagen, the SUV's beating heart remains untouched. It's a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 making 577 horsepower, and is good for a 0-60 mph time of just 4.5 seconds. That's in an SUV with a curb weight just shy of 6,000 pounds. Four-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission are also standard.

Mercedes says the Edition 55 comes finished in Obsidian Black metallic and rides on 22-inch forged wheels, even though the images it sent to accompany the announcement clearly show a not-black SUV. It also comes with the AMG Night Package, which brings blacked-out trim and unique accents, and the fuel filler cap is embossed with the AMG logo. Inside, the cabin features a black and red color scheme with stainless steel accents throughout. Black velour floor mats stitched with "Edition 55" in red are standard, along with an AMG Performance steering wheel wrapped in microfiber. The seats are covered in black and red Nappa leather upholstery, and Edition 55 badges are seen throughout the space.

Mercedes-AMG G 63 "Edition 55"The 577-hp super SUV can sprint to 60 mph quicker than many sports cars. Mercedes

When Mercedes says "limited edition" here, it means business. Just 55 of the SUVs will be available in the United States, and will be released later this year. There's no word on ordering or pricing details yet, but it's a safe bet that the ultra-exclusive G-Wagen will sell out quickly.

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