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Audi brought The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyar, CEA president Gary Shapiro, and even a 1930s Horch 850 to its CES Keynote address Monday night. But none of them could outshine the laser-powered headlamps of Audi's latest concept, or outperform the A7 that drove itself onto the stage.
Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler said that today's autonomous cars herald a new era in motoring. "We are moving from refining the automobile to redefining mobility," he said.
Indeed, the technology that powered the self-driving A7 can fit on a card about the size of a desktop computer's motherboard, and pulls in laser, radar, camera, and ultrasonic data.
Stadler's looking forward to an era of what he calls "piloted driving." But today, humans are still in charge, and Audi's trying to make driving as easy and comfortable as possible.
That's why AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega came onstage to announce that the mobile carrier would partner with Audi to provide the 4G LTE connection in the new Audi A3. It's AT&T's second partnership announced at CES 2014—de la Vega was on GM's stage last night.
"If mobility used to be about connecting places and people, it's now about connecting the driver," Stadler said. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until Audi's press conference tomorrow to learn more details about the promise of Android in the car.
Finally, Audi brought out the impressive and expected Sport Quattro Laseright concept, promising that its unique laser headlamps that can light the road ahead for nearly a third of a mile may someday make it to a production car sold in the US.
From lasers to LTE, concepts on display demonstrated what Stadler called "the full spectrum of what it means to be a leader of innovation."