THE Audi A8, the German luxury brand’s new flagship limousine, will be able to roll itself over slightly to protect occupants from a crash, the carmaker has revealed.
The technology, which uses the A8’s safety systems to detect if a side-on crash is about to happen, will lift that side of the car 80mm in less than half a second, allowing the stronger door frame and body sill to absorb more of the impact.
The technology is made possible by the A8’s 48-volt main electrical system – technology the car maker has already rolled out in the SQ7, Audi’s performance-honed large SUV, to power an electric compressor used to boost engine power.
Other high-demand electrical components suited to 48-volt systems include a mild hybrid drivetrain.
For the new active chassis technology, the A8 has an electromechanical unit at each corner of the suspension system. They are managed by an electronic chassis platform (ECP) central control unit that is integrated in to other vehicle systems.
Each unit is capable of applying up to 1100Nm of force to either compress or extend the suspension arms, depending on the road conditions and driving style.
During fast cornering the active system can counter the compression of the outside wheels, reducing bodyroll, and can minimise pitch and dive during heavy acceleration or braking by applying force to either the front or rear suspension.
The technology also uses information from the vehicle’s forward-facing camera to spot obstacles on the road and adjust the suspension to suit them. While a conventional suspension set up would crash into a pothole or over a speed bump, Audi’s active system will move the wheel with the obstacle, minimising the unpleasant sensation transmitted through to the cabin and its occupants.
The result is a combination of sharper vehicle dynamics and driver reward when negotiating exciting roads, and increased occupant comfort when cruising or being chauffeured.
There are also safety advantages. If the A8 senses the likelihood of a side impact with another vehicle, the suspension on the exposed side is raised. Occupants experience a load reduction of up to 50 per cent, says Audi.
Complementing the active suspension technology are air suspension and rear-wheel steering, which enables a number of driving modes according to driver and passenger preference, and reduced turning circle – the A8 will loop back on itself in a tighter turn than an A4, according to the German car maker.
A complete rundown of the new Audi A8’s features and technology including range wide hybrid technology, self-parking and weight-saving design will be detailed at the Audi Summit in Barcelona on July 11.