On average, the Predictive Efficiency Assistant of Audi is supposed to save around twelve percent fuel. An impressive figure – especially if you extrapolate it to the amount of fuel consumed over the year. The new feature, which is currently available in the Audi A4, A5 and Q7 and is also to be included in other new models in future, informs the driver when he should take his foot off the accelerator. This is when the car efficiently exploits the outdoor conditions, such as gradient, speed limits and other vehicles in front of it. How exactly does the PEA work, what does it feel like and how much fuel does it save?
This is how the Predictive Efficiency Assistant works
Take your foot off the accelerator – this friendly instruction from the Audi virtual cockpit indicated that it’s time to save fuel. The Predictive Efficiency Assistant (PEA) can predict route topographies in order to fully exploit and unleash the momentum at just the right moment. Timo Pape tested the PEA for Audi’s blog.
The Predictive Efficiency Assistant tested in practice
To answer these questions, I drove the same stretch in Altmühltal, near Ingolstadt, twice with the Audi A4. Also on board: Daniel Lepczyk, developer of car features at Audi. On our more than 50-minute journey, I become acquainted with all the PEA’s features. The indication “gradient” is displayed particularly frequently. Via a green foot symbol in the virtual cockpit, the PEA shows me a good part of the hilltop and instructs me to take my foot off the accelerator. I do so, and the Audi A4 switches the engine to idle. First, we roll over the hilltop, then down the whole slope. Only when the road begins to rise again does the PEA sign disappear. I put my foot on the accelerator again, the drive train connects with the engine again.
“But the Predictive Efficiency Assistant doesn’t only indicate an approaching slope,” says Lepczyk, who was involved in developing this feature. Sure enough, a little later the PEA indicates that we are approaching a curve where I will need to slow down the car. Although trees conceal the curve from my sight, I trust the instruction and throttle the speed. Eventually we reach the curve with exactly the right speed – another few hundred metres of fuel saved again. During my test drive, I become acquainted with other symbols, too. The PEA indicates, of instance, where there are speed limits on my route – such as at the entrance to villages and towns, at roundabouts, intersections and if there are slower vehicles ahead.
Lots of data leads to a perfect result
To ensure that a route profile is as accurate as possible, the Predictive Efficiency Assistant draws on various data sources and amalgamates them. “The centrepiece is the predictive route data (PSD) originating from the sat nav”, explains Lepczyk. This is further complemented by radar sensors on the car that observe the surrounding area and a front camera responsible for recognizing traffic signs.” The back end of the car quickly stores the recognized speed limit and makes this information available to other vehicles. This way the car always knows exactly at any moment when the driver should slow down.”
In future, the Predictive Efficiency Assistant is supposed to be able to do even more. “In the new Audi A8, an accelerator pedal will in future be activated haptically and indicate how to save petrol in response to gently tapping with one’s foot”, says Lepczyk going into raptures: “The PEA is be particularly effective with electrified drives, because it enables active recuperation – such as, for instance, when approaching the car in front of you.” In the Audi Q7 e-tron, the entire route is calculated in advance by using algorithms, and a decision is made about when the car drives electrically and when it drives with a combustion motor.
The Predictive Efficiency Assistant saves up to ten percent
After about two hours, my test for the Audi blog ends. The Predictive Efficiency Assistant certainly never bothered me. On the contrary, it made for an even more relaxed drive. I compare the fuel consumption displays in the virtual cockpit. During the first round – without the PEA’s indications – we used an average of 6.4 litres petrol for 100 kilometres. Then I take a glance at the figures for round two: 5.8 litres. We did actually save nearly ten percent petrol. In conclusion: The PEA is intuitive in use, it gets you to your destination in a more relaxed state of mind and it saves a lot of petrol – so it’s good for your wallet and good for the environment.
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