The driverless cars are coming. Google's been pushing the technology for some time now, but it certainly won't be the only one to put self-driving vehicles on our roads.
Speaking after the Urban Future Awards in Berlin, Audi's chair of the board of management Rupert Stadler was adamant that cars that pilot themselves will be on our roads within two years.
"This will happen, latest 2016," he said. "For the piloted driving, Audi is in the lead, and others will follow in one year or two years. The importance is that Audi is perceived as a progressive brand, that we really try to engage different stakeholders. And if others will benefit that's fine, that's okay. Where's the problem?"
He added, "With the RS7 in Hockenheim we have piloted [autonomous] driving at 230kph. This is extreme, but this reflects to us what we, in terms of technology, can offer. With pure, piloted driving, the driver can take his hands off the steering wheel. He is liberated to do different things. To use it to do FaceTime with his customers, with his business, with his family. That way we create added value."
FaceTime on the go
Mr Stadler was bullish about the prospects for self-driving cars despite being clear about the issues that need to be resolved for them to become commonplace, noting, "There will be nothing happen overnight, believe me. How to change the infrastructure in a city like Berlin? We should not be naïve, this is a process of 10, 15, 20 years."
However, for Audi's "premium" customers, it seems autonomous cars in at least some, probably diluted form, could be here in time for the next Olympics.
As one example of what the near future could hold, Audi was also showing off its Online Traffic Light Information System, currently being trialled in Berlin, Verona and Las Vegas. This feeds data provided from municipal systems to your car, advising you on the optimum speed to avoid lights where possible, and approach as slowly as is practical when they're going to be red.
The full Q&A with Rupert Stadler is over at our sister site T3.com.