Sunday, February 5, 2023
Auto Shows & Events Audi AI:ME First Drive: The Next Phase of Evolution at CES

Audi AI:ME First Drive: The Next Phase of Evolution at CES

If your car is driving itself, what are you supposed to do? Audi AI:ME autonomous concept answers the question at 2020 CES

  • Audi AI:ME Concept features fully autonomous driving capabilities and electric motor
  • Audi showcased virtual reality possibilities to entertain occupants while the car drives itself
  • The Audi AI:ME adapts and learns from its owner to be meet his or her needs

The Consumer Electronics Show 2020 is part of what’s coming in tech, part pie in the sky. There’s some ridiculous stuff being dreamed and unveiled at the CES including ideas that took hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and that we may never see put into practical use.

Automakers are fully on the bandwagon and the CES has become the premier automotive event of January despite the North American International Auto Show. The CES has become so important for automakers that Detroit moved its show to June to not get buried in the hype coming out of Las Vegas. Audi was the first automaker to recognize the potential and significance of the CES when it joined in 2011.

This year, Audi brought its Audi AI:ME concept to Vegas and had journalists get behind the wheel on the roof of the Aria Hotel on the strip. Except in the AI:ME, the wheel disappears.

12 Automotive Things We'll See at 2020 CES In Las Vegas

The concept that was waiting for us was the same that was unveiled in Shanghai earlier last year. It’s part of a series of four Audi AI concepts designed for various automotive environments. The Audi AI:CON is a premium luxury autonomous vehicle, the AI:RACE is for the track, and the AI:TRAIL is an autonomous off-roader.

The Audi AI:ME is all about urban mobility. It’s about the size of an Audi A3 although its bulky exterior panels, massive 23-inch wheels and uncluttered interior make it feel bigger. Audi sees the Audi AI:ME as the first step towards an eventual urban car that’s both electric and autonomous. It’s not fully autonomous and still has a steering wheel, but the latter can retract into a small table in front of the “driver” in most situations.

The idea here is that in the future, most urban areas, suburbs and highways will be friendly to autonomous vehicles. Your car will drive you to work, or to IKEA, or to your parents’ house outside the city. That said, it may take a while for every roadway to be mapped out, or weather may impact the effectiveness of autonomous driving technologies. That’s where that retractable steering wheel comes into play. You can still drive the Audi AI:ME, but Audi thinks most of us will prefer to relax and let the car handle all of that.

What Do I Do Now?

The Audi AI:ME at CES 2020 | Photo: Audi

This year at CES, Audi wanted to answer the eventual question of what to do when the car is driving itself. As the AI:ME was maneuvering along a small course on a Vegas rooftop, my colleague and I had a virtual reality helmet on showing us flying through a beautiful mountain landscape in China. I could picture myself doing this in the morning and relaxing to the soothing soundtrack. Beats the heck out of worrying about that driver fiddling with Google Maps on their phone or desperately avoiding that taxi that was merging one way or another.

The car will eventually connect to your phone and adapt its entertainment to your preferences. As Audi’s Hildegard Wortmann told us after our first contact with the Audi AI:ME, this is a car that will know its owner and do everything it can to make life easier for him or her. It may even know us better than we know ourselves. A scary statement, but that’s where we’re headed. Maybe.

A couple of things come to the top when I think of this first drive in Audi’s autonomous urban concept. Firstly, if you strip away all of the VR and autonomous stuff, the Audi AI:ME concept was a great place to spend some time in. It’s a breeze to enter and exit, there’s plenty of space inside and the materials are top-notch. At the very least, Audi should use the prototype as a starting point for its future products.

Secondly, there will be a point in the future where we will need something to do in our cars because we certainly won’t be driving. Automakers need to get creative, and Audi’s virtual reality idea is a great starting point. I’m not sure I want my car deciding what I like for me, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

The Audi AI:ME at CES 2020 | Photo: Audi

The Audi AI:ME at CES 2020 | Photo: Audi

The Audi AI:ME at CES 2020 | Photo: Audi

Trending Now

Mazda USA Boss Says the New CX-90 PHEV Addresses People’s Interest in Electrification

Mazda CEO notes that the EV space is suffering growing pains. PHEV technology, according to him, offers the best of both worlds. Strong demand...

Mazda Promises the MX-5 Miata Will Outlive Us All

Today is a brighter day for us all. The MX-5 Miata was born in 1990 and will never die. For most, the Mazda MX-5,...

Get Ready for Less Wait Times and Lower Prices With Ford’s 2023 Mustang Mach-E Plans

Price cuts range from $4,750 - $8,500 depending on the model. Ford will increase Mach-E production for 2023. Ford recently announced plans to significantly...

Audi is Working on an Electric RS6 e-Tron that will be launched Next Year

This model will use the new PPE platform and it will feature a wider body and larger wheels. The A6 e-Tron concept reportedly...

Bankruptcy: the sunset happened too soon for Lightyear

The company had only assembled about a dozen cars. The court approved the request of the operating company responsible for the production of...
Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including and as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.