BARCELONA, Spain -- Audi's redesigned A8 flagship luxury sedan will feature Level 3 autonomous driving capability for urban traffic jams.
Or it will, eventually, if laws in specific regions are changed to allow it.
In a case of technology outstripping humans' ability to keep up with it, Audi says the redesigned A8 will launch this year with all of the technologies and sensor arrays necessary to enable the car to fully pilot itself in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
But those features won't be turned on by Audi until laws are passed in each jurisdiction to enable the technology to operate legally.
That could be a specific problem in the United States, where such laws would be passed at the state level, says Mirko Reuter, Audi's head of autonomous driving functions.
"In the U.S., all these legal requirements are made on the state level. We're not talking about whole U.S., talking about every different state, and every different state will have legal challenges," Reuter said.
He said some states are ahead of others in terms of developing a legal framework for Level 3 autonomous driving -- where the car assumes complete control under specified conditions -- but that legal homologation will be necessary. The company said it will use geofencing to make sure the A8's Traffic Jam Pilot is only available to drivers traveling in jurisdictions where it is legal. For example, if a driver in Florida, where such a system is legal, travels to another state where it is not, Traffic Jam Pilot will not activate.
"We have everything on board for the technologies, so the A8 is equipped with everything that it needs, but the problem is that the legal challenges have not really been solved," Reuter explained.