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Rupert Stadler believes in the digital future of the automobile  (Photo: Claus Dick)

FRANKFURT - Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said Wednesday that the next generation of its flagship A7 sedan will have the core functions of the carmaker's "piloted driving" technologies on board.

In a keynote address at the carIT Congress here, Stadler said the car, which is planned for 2017, will likely be able to drive in piloted mode up to a speed of 60kms/hour.

The Audi CEO also reaffirmed the brand's strategic plan to focus heavily on digitization in the development of its cars. "Thanks to the digital possibilities we have, cars are becoming more secure and more comfortable," he said.

Next up in Audi vehicles will be gesture control, concave displays and so-called "feelscreens," Stadler said. He added that a key question will be to what extent carmakers will allow central displays to become merely a monitor for smartphone apps."There's a small power struggle going on here between the IT and the auto industry," Stadler said. Feelscreens are a new haptic development of traditional touchscreens.

The Audi CEO cited the promise of much better connectivity as "swarm intelligence" transfers data from other cars and the infrastructure to the vehicle. But he warned that high-speed, 5G mobile networks willl be a core requirement for these technologies to function well.

-By Arjen Bongard