Audi drives into the future with world's first 4G LTE car

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When the 2014 Audi A3 goes on sale in the US next year it will not only be the first car with a built-in super-fast mobile internet hotspot as standard, it will also represent a significant first step towards truly connected-car technology.

Audi announced the news at a press conference at the 2013 Connected Car Expo which opens its doors on November 20 as part of the Los Angeles Auto Show. “Offering drivers a 4G LTE connection will provide the fastest in-vehicle connection available an d significantly enhance the infotainment experience,” said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America.

And while the service will initially be focused on improving the entertainment and information streamed to the A3’s multimedia interface (MMI) in the very near future, having such a fast internet connection will mean huge amounts of other types of data can also be sent and received, a necessity if the connected car is to become a reality.

For a number of years, car companies have been working in tandem to develop wireless car-2-car communication systems that will enable vehicles to use wifi or internet bandwidth to essentially talk to each other in order to avoid accidents (imagine knowing that around the corner is a broken-down car and being able to take action before it’s too late) and to communicate with elements of road infrastructure so that cars are always traveling at optimum speeds to avoid traffic jams or to pass through traffic junctions when the lights are on green.

Or how about automatically slowing down and giving way when an ambulance or police car needs to pass? All of these technologies are proven and tested but are yet to be implemented because cars will need an internet connection.

But that’s the future. When the 4G/LTE-enabled A3 launches in 2014 it will offer smoother, faster renderings of Google Earth and Google Street (which Audi uses in its navigation system), read aloud news headlines and social media updates drawn live from the internet, and provide access to over 7,000 web radio stations.

It will also be able to serve as an in in-car wifi hotspot for up to eight other devices, be they smartphones, tablets or both, so that passengers can stream HD movies during the journey.

Audi is yet to announce which US wireless carrier it will be partnering with in order to offer the service, or how much the data plan needed to use the LTE 4G network will cost.

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