Let’s be honest and say that most off-road vehicles are just adaptations of existing trucks. Period. But not Audi’s AI:TRAIL concept. This is wicked-hot and not like anything you’ll see climbing rocks in Moab or snaking through thick rain-forest lava terrain in Hawaii. If you think this is for looks only, though, or if you already love the styling, please read on.
Sitting majestically 5.5-feet high on 22-inch wheels wrapped in 33.5-inch tall tires, this thing is ready to tackle any flora or fauna while providing a lounge-like experience. Ground clearance is 13.4-inches high. Audi says it can trudge through almost two feet of water. Part of the reason for the great ground clearance is for avoiding prickly terrain, but the other is to keep things clear of the batteries that line the bottom of the AI:TRAIL. Poking holes in lithium-ion batteries is no good for the environment, after all. Or for keeping your car from catching on fire.
There are other really cool features like the windshield that folds out. So does the tailgate, but the fold-out windshield we especially like. The AI:TRAIL seats four, with removable hammock-like seats for rear passengers.
Want more? The AI:TRAIL is supposedly an autonomous vehicle, so you can’t drive it in the desert, right? Well, what’s the point of an off-road trailblazer if you can’t blaze the trail? When you’re out in the wilderness, there is no mapping available, so the AI:TRAIL can actually be driven. But you’ll get assistance.
Drones For Headlights
You won’t see headlights, but that’s because the lighting will be provided by small drones flying ahead of the AI:TRAIL to light your way like little lightning bugs swirling around as your friendly guides. They’ll allow you to see almost around dark corners farther ahead than traditional lighting does, without all of those light cans hung all over the front and roof. This is high-style off-roading.
Stability is provided by a range of sensors that read both the ground surface and obstacles. Ultrasound, lasers, cameras and radar help guide the AI:TRAIL making sure you avoid anything that might bump you in the night. These systems will also warn you if you’re about to get in over your head, or over the AI:TRAIL’s capabilities. They also help keep you on the trail much like the lane-keeping systems you’re already familiar with.
Bladerunner Meets Mad Max
The extreme lack of overhangs both front and rear along with the window graphics cutting way below the beltline gives the AI:TRAIL a light and nimble look and feel—just what you want and need for off-road excursions. The jutting fenders give a Meyers-Manx dune buggy feel. We love the look—this is like Bladerunner meets Mad Max.
Depending on the terrain you can expect between 155 and 311 miles of range. Four motors are positioned at each wheel for a combined 429-hp. Audi estimates the maximum speed at 80-plus mph.
Let Audi Spin
Since this is a concept, Audi can only speculate. It thinks that eventually, maybe someday, distantly in the future, we’ll be able to bop on down to our local Audi on-demand vehicle center to take our AI:TRAIL for a week, or just a weekend.
With some food, a tent, and some camping equipment, we’ll be guided through the wilderness to a remote land of flora and fauna-fantastic where we’ll have nary a hair out of place relaxed and ready to hard-nose the wilds thanks to our nimble-quick AI:TRAIL from Audi. The End.