Cars have some pretty remarkable capabilities nowadays, from advanced stability and traction control systems to adjustable engine and transmission settings. They all depend on a plethora of sensors and computers to run it all. But to optimize these systems even farther, Audi is planning on using a single, powerful computer to control both powertrain and chassis components. Audi hopes this solo computer solution will be able to have each set of vehicle systems complement each other and see improved driving characteristics and even possible efficiency gains.
The computer Audi has in mind is approximately ten times more powerful than the chassis and powertrain computers the company already uses, and it would be receiving data and making decisions via around 90 sensors and controllers, rather than the 20 or so the chassis computer has access to now. Not only will the computer have more information and computing power, but it will be able to coordinate how it responds to the information between the powertrain and chassis. There’s potential here for the system to have less intrusive traction and stability control, better gear selection, smoother ride quality, more precise torque vectoring and motor control, and more, all because instead of more limited systems working semi-independently, you’d have one unified, optimized system. As a more basic example, consider how Mazda has a system that slightly cuts power at turn-in to improve response and reduce driver effort when cornering. But the Audi system opens up possibilities for little improvements like that everywhere.
Audi hasn’t given a specific time frame for when we’ll see its central powertrain and chassis computer reach production, but it noted that it should show up in the near future. It highlighted that it’s a modular system that will be applicable to internal combustion, hybrid and fully electric cars. With that in mind, we’d expect the first cars to get it in the next year or two.