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The navigation in the Audi A8 features Google Earth

Audi, which wants to be a leader in connected-car technology, will call its vehicle networking strategy "Audi connect."

The German premium car maker said it will use the name to describe all of the applications and developments that link current and future models with the Internet, with their owners and with the infrastructure.

Audi connect is already present in the A8, A7 Sportback and the new A6. It will soon be included in the small A1 model as well.

The carmaker said these models can be equipped with an optional UMTS module that provides a link to the online world. Through the fast mobile connection, these Audi modelsfeature unrestricted integration of Google Earth into the navigation system's map display. They also have access to the Google search engine.

Audi connect has an integrated wireless LAN hotspot on board, which can connect up to eight mobile devices to the Internet.

This summer, Audi, a unit of the Volkswagen group, will introduce Audi online traffic information, while further into the future, the Audi online connection will allow customers to use software functions to influence the car, as well as make use of online services.

“We’re following a clear strategy with all Audi connect functions, to keep operation simple, minimize driver distraction and keep the level of safety high,"said Ricky Hudi, head of electric and electronic development at Audi.

Other features of Audi connect include more sophisticated options for drivers to use their smartphones to communicate with the car. And the system will allow improved car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication, which will provide improved traffic information.