Audi uses virtual reality to train Logistics employees

When employees put on the VR glasses, they see a realistic and true-to-life simulation of their work station in Hall L of the Ingolstadt Logistics Center. They also hold a controller in each hand that is also used for video games. They use it to grasp and move the virtual images of their work equipment, such as containers or components. Preparing cardboard boxes, placing sun visors in the correct position, applying labels correctly to the container: step-by-step, employees go through the various packing processes just as they would happen in reality. They learn the required hand movements while also getting familiar with the corresponding IT programs. Because this no longer requires actual components and containers, the training can be accomplished flexibly at any location, and the company saves valuable space as well as time and money.

The VR training has various levels of difficulty. This way, the employee can advance and is motivated to immediately put what is learned to use. Whereas learners receive detailed instructions in the first level, in the second round they must “pack” more independently and remember the work steps. The training program immediately gives employees feedback and they can repeat each exercise as often as they wish. A trainer is available to support employees at all times. These trainers can use an associated app on their tablet to follow the training progress and offer help where needed.

The new training program also overcomes language and distance barriers: various language versions can be run with little effort, so that Audi employees can now also train with Spanish or English instructions. This also functions across locations: an employee in Ingolstadt Logistics can work virtually in the Audi plant in San José Chiapa, Mexico, and vice versa. Programmers used existing 3D data from the plans for Audi plants for the realistic depictions of the various locations.

“The response of the employees to the virtual training is extremely positive,” said Project Head Mirko Göres from Brand Logistics Information Process Planning. “After a six-month pilot phase, two process training programs are now in permanent use in CKD Logistics. We are now working with the training center in Ingolstadt and the Neckarsulm and Ingolstadt Plant Logistics to develop three additional VR training programs on the topics of pick-by-light, pick-by-tablet and pick-by-voice.” In addition, the Audi locations of San José Chiapa and Brussels will be more involved in the project in the future.

Virtual reality is used by Audi in numerous areas of the company – from Sales and Technical Development to Production. For instance, the first Audi dealers are already offering the “Audi VR experience” during customer consulting in their dealerships. With this, prospective buyers can configure their virtual dream car and examine a lifelike replica down to the smallest detail. 

Audi driver Loïc Duval: “A terrific moment”

At Zandvoort, you celebrated your first podium finish in the DTM. Did you realize that you were in such a good position during the race?
Loïc Duval: “To be honest, no I didn’t. After a weak qualifying I had started from 13th on the grid. Then, after many of my opponents pitted early, I had a clear track and drove a fairly lonely race.”

In lap 14 you took the lead after your teammate Mike Rockenfeller headed to the pit.
“That was a really great feeling, but I knew that Marco Wittman and Mike still remained in the ‘virtual’ lead. They then began to narrow the gap to me more and more, eventually catching me up shortly before my pit-stop.”

After the stop, you remained in third place. Did you know at this point that you were in a position to get your first DTM podium?
“No, not at all. In the cockpit we are shown all of our positions, but I was so sure that I had fallen back down the field that I didn’t even pay attention to the display. It was only when I crossed the finish line that my race engineer Mathieu (Le Nail) shouted the good news over the radio.”

It was your first DTM podium in your first DTM season. How did it feel to stand up there?
“I have driven for Audi Sport since 2012 and have celebrated a lot of success in the WEC. But to drive to the podium as a rookie in a new racing series was something really special – a terrific moment for me. Not least because I was able to celebrate it together with ‘Rocky’ as well.”

The fascination of pure music: 3D sound in the new Audi A8

Luxury is audible. The new generation of the Audi A8 demonstrates this in impressive style – with the Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System. It supplies 23 loudspeakers featuring ultra-light and therefore low-distortion neodymium magnets that produce an airy, high-resolution sound pattern. The effect is impressive, especially when reproducing a classical concert of high recording quality: The interior is transformed into a broad stage where the music unfolds exactly how it was recorded in the concert hall – without any artificial effects. The sound is authentic and emotional. That is the top priority of Audi’s audio specialists, making sound quality a fitting reflection of the brand philosophy.

The sound system in detail
The brand with the four rings first introduced 3D sound in the Audi Q7 in 2015. In the new A8 it now extends the evolutionary version to include the rear compartment of the car. Two full-range loudspeakers in the A-pillars and two in the headlining above the rear seats supply the spatial dimension of height and develop the surround sound into the perfect stereophonic experience. The 1,920-watt amplifier by Bang & Olufsen, which operates highly efficiently thanks to ICEpower technology, generates the 3D sound with its digital signal processor. It produces little waste heat and therefore abundant audio output – as is audibly evidenced in the detailed sound pattern. Above all, it amplifies the signal of the woofers, which reproduce sound that is especially energy-laden, such as a low note from an organ.

When the infotainment system is switched on, the two tweeters extend electrically out of the instrument panel. Thanks to Acoustic Lens Technology from Bang & Olufsen, they ensure that the sound is distributed in a horizontal 180-degree fan. Individual amplifier channels supply each loudspeaker. To produce the 3D sound, the new sound system draws on an algorithm that Audi has developed in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute in Erlangen. It uses stereo or 5.1 recordings to calculate the information for the third dimension and processes it for the four 3D loudspeakers. This occurs dynamically; in other words, the algorithm adapts individually to the recording to avoid causing any distortion to the sound.

Widely configurable acoustic backdrop
Using the MMI system as well as a separate operating unit for the rear passengers that resembles a smartphone, the sound setting can be optimized as preferred – with a specific focus on the front or rear seats, or all seats. The rear-focused setting enables the rear passengers to enjoy the best possible quality of 3D and surround sound. As well as treble and bass, the occupants can also adjust the subwoofer volume independently of all other loudspeakers. Then there is a special function for film sound tracks, known as Movie Set. The 5.1 sound track plays in the same quality as in front of a big screen in the cinema. The system localizes every voice individually and adjusts the balance accordingly. For instance, if a character appears to the right of the picture, their voice is also played from the right. 

Challenges in development
Work on the concept for the sound systems for the new Audi A8 started very early on in the development process. “Integrating the loudspeakers at the right points in the car is the key to 80 percent of the audio quality,” explains Wolfram Jähn, sound/acoustics developer for the A8. “They need to be mounted as rigidly as possible, so we fixed the subwoofer in the rear panel, which is made from carbon fiber-reinforced polymer. The aim is to isolate the loudspeaker from the body and prevent any vibrations from being transmitted.” The speaker grilles are another vital factor. For these components, Audi’s designers and sound engineers worked closely with the developers from Bang & Olufsen. The grilles need to have maximum acoustic transparency while also performing their protective function. It is all about striking the right balance between open and closed surface. In the Audi A8, precision-perforated covers of double-anodized aluminum adorn the loudspeakers in the front and rear doors. White LED light guides illuminate the woofers. The basis for top-quality sound systems is the quality of every individual component.

A dedicated team
High-end sound is an Audi core competence. Its collaboration with Bang & Olufsen began at the turn of the millennium. From 2005, the A8 was available optionally with the Advanced Sound System by the Danish specialist. This meant Audi was the first carmaker to be able to supply a factory-fitted high-end sound system.

In the new Audi A8, Bang & Olufsen now supplies both the Advanced and the Premium Sound System. When the door is opened, a hearty audio jingle composed specially for the A8 greets passengers. Meanwhile the ambient lighting presents the interior of the luxury sedan in unique style.

“We seek out the best partner for every project,” remarks Mario Fresner, Head of Sound Development at AUDI AG. The Fraunhofer Institute also plays a decisive role in this process. Mario Fresner explains: “Bang & Olufsen performs basic tuning of the system at its premises. We independently conduct in-depth development work on the system and its components here in Ingolstadt. The 3D coordination work then takes place in Erlangen. Everyone involved has the same ambitious aim: to offer our customers the best possible sound system – one that is technically extremely sophisticated and capable of conveying the emotion that resides in the music.”

Two numbers to signify the future – new power output designations at Audi

The reference value for the new model designations is the power output of the individual model in kilowatts (kW). Audi is thus subclassifying its model range into different performance levels – each identified by a two-numeral combination. For example, the numeral combination “30” will appear on the rear of all models with power output between 81 and 96 kW. And “45” stands for power output between 169 and 185 kW. The top of the Audi model range is the performance class above 400 kW, which is identifiable by the number combination “70”. In each case the numerals appear along with the engine technology – TFSI, TDI, g-tron or e-tron.

The number combinations identifying the performance levels in the Audi product range increase in increments of five, and they represent the hierarchy within both the respective model series and the brand’s overall model range. According to the new nomenclature, in the future the spectrum will range from the Audi Q2 30 TFSI with 85 kW (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5.4 – 5.1*; CO2 emissions in g/km: 123 – 117) to the Audi Q7 50 TDI with 200 kW (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 6.4 – 5.9; CO2 emissions in g/km: 168 – 154*). A special place in the line-up is occupied by the high-end, high-performance S and RS models and the Audi R8 (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 12.5 – 11.4; combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 292 – 272). They will retain their classic names in reference to their top position in the model range.

“As alternative drive technologies become increasingly relevant, engine displacement as a performance attribute is becoming less important to our customers. The clarity and logic of structuring the designations according to power output makes it possible to distinguish between the various performance levels,” explains Dr. Dietmar Voggenreiter, Board of Management Member for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG.

The changes will kick off with the new Audi A8 generation in the fall of 2017. First among the two six-cylinder engines to be redesignated will be the 3.0 TDI with 210 kW – as the Audi A8 50 TDI (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 5.8 – 5.6**; combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 152 – 145), and the 3.0 TFSI with 250 kW – as the Audi A8 55 TFSI (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.8 – 7.5; combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 178 – 171**).

In the coming months, all Audi model series launched on the market will be assigned the new performance designations beginning when they are offered for sale. Audi will change the designations of the remaining model series in the current product range in time for the new model year changeover in summer of 2018. 

  • Figures depend on the tires/wheels used and on the transmission version, and for the Q7 also
    on the number of seats 

** Figures depend on the tires/wheels used and on the body version 

Audi models with a solar roof: Car manufacturer cooperates with Hanergy

As the first step, Audi and Hanergy want to integrate Alta Devices’ thin-film solar cells into a panoramic glass roof. In the future, almost the entire roof surface is to be covered with solar cells. The electricity they generate will flow into the car’s electrical system and can supply for example the air-conditioning system or the seat heaters – a gain in efficiency that has a direct positive impact on the range of an electric vehicle.

“The range of electric cars plays a decisive role for our customers. Together with Hanergy, we plan to install innovative solar technology in our electric cars that will extend their range and is also sustainable,” stated Audi Board of Management Member for Procurement Dr. Bernd Martens.

At a later stage, solar energy could directly charge the traction battery. “That would be a milestone along the way to achieving sustainable, emission-free mobility,” continued Martens.

The green electricity will be generated by innovative solar cells. They have an efficiency of more than 25 percent, they are very thin and flexible. Furthermore they perform very well also in conditions of low light and high temperature. The solar cells are produced by Alta Devices in California.

Dr. Ding Jian, senior Vice President of Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Limited, CEO of Alta Devices, Inc. and co-leader of the Audi/Hanergy Thin Film Solar Cell Research and Development Project, said: “This partnership with Audi is Alta Devices’ first cooperation with a high-end auto brand. By combining Alta’s continuing breakthroughs in solar technology and Audi’s drive toward a sustainable mobility of the future, we will shape the solar car of the future”.