According to Audi, the future of autonomous driving is ... reclined much of the time.
The German premium brand on Thursday introduced the Grandsphere, the second of three planned concept vehicles it says lay out a future for its products as it transitions to an all-electric lineup that will include models with Level 4 autonomous-driving capability.
Audi executives said they intend to sell a Level 4-capable vehicle to consumers by 2026. The first concept, named Skysphere, was shown last month; the Urbansphere will be shown next year.
The Grandsphere, a large luxury sedan with two front-row seats and a rear bench, has two main highlights: the brand's coming cat-eye LED exterior lighting signature and a bespoke interior that reimagines how the vehicle's passengers will spend their time while the vehicle is driving itself.
Accessed via large portal doors, the spacious Grandsphere interior replaces the traditional huge blackened touch screen prevalent in most such luxury vehicles with one projected across a wooden substructure that wraps across the vehicle from door to door.
The wheel and control functions are hidden behind a hinged panel in the dashboard and emerge only on command from the driver. Most of the concept's functions are controlled by gesture, voice command or a distinct look from the driver that is picked up by the vehicle's sensors.