Audi won't enable new A8's semi-autonomous features in USby Justin King
Hinting at a fear over Tesla's attention-grabbing fatal accident on a California highway, Audi says America's patchwork of different state-level infrastructure standards plays into its decision.
Audi is apparently hesitant to launch its new A8's semi-autonomous Traffic Jam Pilot technology in the US market.
The SAE Level 3 system was supposed to be one of the highlight features on Audi's latest flagship sedan. It will initially be available only in Europe, however.
In a statement to Roadshow, the company outlined a long list of concerns including "uncertainty to consumer deployment (insurance requirements, local laws on vehicle design and performance, reporting standards)" and a patchwork of different state-level standards for infrastructure standards such as lane markings and road configurations.
The infrastructure concerns hint at possible concerns over the recent fatal Tesla Autopilot crash in which a Model X appeared to be confused by degraded lane markings on a California highway, causing the car to steer itself into a concrete divider and killing the driver.
It is unclear if there is also a cultural element at play, as many American drivers appear to be ignoring disclaimers and warnings to pay attention to the road at all times while highly-automated assistance systems are taking care of steering, accelerating and braking tasks.
"Consumer understanding of automated vehicle technologies and driver responsibilities certainly also can be further informed," the spokesperson added. Audi believes it will avoid Tesla's troubles, however, "because our system is fundamentally different, we won't be adding to the storylines that have been pretty pervasive lately."
The German automaker has not outlined a timeframe for bringing Traffic Jam Pilot to its US vehicle fleet. To be clear, it will not be a simple software update for the 2019 A8, as the necessary hardware components have been omitted on US-bound vehicles.