Anderson, South Carolina, United States
Still in the process of trying to get its trick LED Matrix Beam headlights legalized in the US, Audi is now trying to get its front and rear sequential LED turn signals approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Just like its auto-dimming headlights, the sequentially illuminating turn signals don't meet NHTSA's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108.
The problem, according to Automotive News, is that the individual lighting elements are too small to meet current US safety regulations. The rule states that each lamp should be 22 square centimeters (8.6 square inches) and the whole lighted combined area must be 50 square centimeters (19.6 square inches). In the individual sequence, Audi's lights are much smaller than that. As for the Ford Mustang, which has had sequential turn signals since 2010, this system is legal since the first lens is large enough to meet the required size, so the other two lights really aren't even necessary.
It sounds like it could be some time before we see these turn signals on Audis in the US, which is a shame because in addition to their styling bebefuts, we think they're more effective at signaling the vehicle's intended direction of travel, and they do a better job of grabbing the eye. Scroll down to watch a pair of videos showing the headlights in action on the redesigned A8/S8 as well as the recently updated R8.
2012 Audi Q3 - Click above for high-res image gallery
It wasn't that long ago that Audi had no SUVs in its lineup - aside from the A6 Allroad Quattro - despite being known for its all-wheel-drive vehicles. But that's all changed, just as it has for BMW and Porsche. The Q7 was followed by the Q5, and now the Q3 has started production as well.
The first Q3 rolled off the assembly line today at the plant in Martorell, Spain. The facility belongs principally to Audi's sister-company Seat, but has gone through a considerable expansion - funded by both Audi and Seat - to prepare for the Q3's production.
Next time you take your Audi in for service, watch to see if a little white stand is following your mechanic around. It's not some new measurement tool for your car; it's a actually a robot being controlled remotely to improve vehicle service. While bots playing a role in building cars is nothing new, the company is taking things a step further in the US by introducing Audi Robotic Telepresence to assist dealer technicians in repairing the brand's vehicles. The droids are already being used in a pilot program at about 18 dealers nationwide with plans to have it at 100 in the near future.
At the moment, ART, as its called, is more R2-D2 than The Terminator. It certainly won't be doing any wrenching on your A4 anytime soon because it doesn't even have arms. Instead, the robot comprises a remote-controlled stand with multiple cameras, a microphone and speakers. The bot is operated remotely by Audi Technical Assistance consultants and Technical Field Managers who can talk back-and-forth with mechanics about vehicle service and help to remotely diagnose problems. The droid is even equipped with a handheld camera and borescope to reach into tiny crevices.
Audi claims that ART is the first system of its kind to directly link automakers with technicians at the dealer level in this way and leads to faster, more accurate service for customers. Scroll down to watch a video of the bot in action and read the release for the current list of participating dealers.