2018 Audi A8

The Audi A8 is the first production vehicle to achieve Level 3 autonomy. That's a huge accomplishment; here's why.

Sophisticated. Sleek. Electric. High-tech. Autonomous.

Audi introduces the all-new A8, which made its debut at the automaker’s summit in Barcelona this week. It’s luxurious, just as you would expect from an Audi vehicle. But where the A8 really shines is in its advanced functionality. And when we say “advanced,” we referring to it going places that no other automobile has yet to go before it.

Yes, there’s a cool new infotainment system, and its active electric suspension and hybrid engine stand out too. But where the Audi A8 is going to really turn heads is that it’s expected to be the very first production vehicle to achieve Level 3 autonomy. Essentially this means that though a driver is still required behind the wheel, the vehicle is equipped with enough tech that it can automatically respond to “safety critical functions,” such as acceleration, braking and steering without driver intervention. Specifically, Audi says the A8 can drive on its own at speeds of up to 60 km/hr (or about 37 mph). Level 3 autonomy is a step below a fully autonomous vehicle.

The A8 is making its debut in Germany this fall. It’s expected to be available in the U.S. sometime in the spring or summer of 2018. We can hardly wait. First, Level 3 autonomy. Soon, it could be full autonomy. What a time to be alive, indeed.