Audi concept car swaps the headlights for drones

Audi has revealed a new concept car, the AI:Trail, that uses five rotorless drones instead of low-beam and high-beam headlights.

The electrically operated drones come with integrated matrix LED elements to light up the surroundings of the vehicle and can recharge their batteries by landing on the vehicle’s roof rack.

They can generate their lift in the same way as bladeless fans produce air flow and fly ahead of the vehicle to illuminate the oncoming path.

On-board cameras can generate a video image that can be transmitted directly to the car’s display via Wi-Fi and when the AI:TRAIL is stationary, the drones can also illuminate the surrounding area from their position on the roof.

Aimed at explorers, the technology will also be on hand as a campfire light and could be used to project directional symbols to assist hikers.


The vehicle also comes equipped with level 4 autonomous driving, although since it is designed for off-road use the driver would need to take control when moving off the road network.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi was keen to promote the vehicle’s “all-round” cockpit-style visibility, thanks to its glass roof and the use of glass to cover almost the entire sides and back of the vehicle.

The vehicle remains a concept for now so may never become a reality, but it does offer a glimpse of what motoring could look like in the future.

AI:Trail is supported by four electric motors designed to reach a maximum speed of 80.8mph.

“With the AI:Trail, we are showing an off-road concept with an emissions-free electric drive for an innovative driving experience away from paved roads,” said Marc Lichte, Audi’s head of design.

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