Audi’s Artemis project gives us a slice of what an autonomous driving future may look like
The German company goes shooting for the stars
Audi’s announcement of Project Artemis couldn’t have come at a worse time. You see, it happened in late May last year, right around the time many carmakers were emerging a little bleary-eyed from factory shutdowns imposed as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The talk on everyone’s lips back then was how badly the pandemic (which unless a miracle happens, is still ongoing) would affect their bottom line for 2020 and how quick, if at all, the recovery would be.
Understandably, the news of Project Artemis got a little lost in the hubbub, which is a little sad, because it’s incredibly exciting. Then-newly-installed CEO Markus Duesmann announced he would be creating a business division within Audi that would report to him directly, tasked to “develop a pioneering model for Audi quickly and unbureaucratically”.
Which we take to mean developing a car (or cars) with all the gusto and can-do spirit of a startup, but with the virtually limitless clout of Audi and parent company the Volkswagen Group behind it.
The man tasked with heading up that global team is Alex Hitzinger, the mastermind behind Porsche’s triumphant return to top-flight endurance racing in 2015 and who up until 2018 was a senior member of Apple’s self-driving electric car team.
As for when Project Artemis would yield its first car, or what form it could take is a bigger question, though given Hitzinger’s track record in Apple, and his most recent stint as head of Volkswagen’s autonomous car and car-sharing division. However, it’s pretty safe bet it would be in the ultra-premium segment, according to a few nuggets revealed by Audi’s design chief Marc Lichte in an interview a couple of months ago.
But what of a spiritual successor to its incredibly innovative, incredibly frugal (and incredibly expensive, which pretty much led to its sales failure) aluminium-bodied A2 city car of the early-2000s?
After all, it does play right into Hitzinger’s expertise in Mobility-As-A-Service (car-sharing, basically), and Project Artemis’ remit of “utilising new opportunities in the markets”.Audi