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(Pocket-lint) - Audi loves tech and it looks like the forthcoming Audi Q4 e-tron is going to be packed with it. But the thing that really caught our eye - pardon the pun - was the augmented reality (AR) heads-up display (HUD).

Heads-up displays are nothing new in cars. Many models have offered some form of information for the driver, either projected onto the bottom of the windscreen or onto a small glass panel that sits on the top of the dash.

That's always been an ok solution, but was never really a game changer. Often, you still have to glance down to look at it, so you might as well just look at the dash or central display instead, which is bigger and typically, better at showing the complete information.

But augmented reality - AR - has an advantage, and it's an advantage that Audi is looking to exploit. The advantage is scale, bringing the information into your eyeline to enhance what you're naturally seeing on the road ahead of you.

Thanks to some clever projector technology - which Audi is calling the PGU (picture generation unit) - the heads-up display is divided into two sections. There's a nearfield information section that's essentially the same as current HUDs in cars, and the farfield AR section, which appears as though it's on the road ahead of you.

Audi says that it will appear to be around 10m ahead of the car, but of course, that's just an AR trick, it's actually just on the inside of the windscreen - and the perceived distance of that information will change based on what it's telling you.

The AR section will be able to put information in your line of sight to highlight where you actually have to turn. Not an arrow saying the next junction - it will actually guide you towards the turning you need to make.

The same system will also be able to guide you into the correct lane and give you visual information when in adaptive cruise assist, or to give you a warning to pay attention.

Audi refers to the AR guidance as a drone - and that's a neat way to think about it. Imagine a drone hovering ahead of the car showing you where to drive, which exit to take. As you approach the turn you'll get closer to the drone, but when there's no turn to make, the drone will go off and find the next turn in the distance.

The car will use the on-board radar, cameras and GPS to gather all the data to make sure that what you're being shown is the correct visual information. The system runs at 60 frames per second, so it should be nice and smooth too.

We'd expect the AR functionality to be on Audi's options list, but we can't wait to try it out. We're guessing that the Q4 e-tron is going to be one of those cars where you'll leave the navigation to Audi's onboard systems, rather than using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The Audi Q4 e-tron is expected to fully launch in summer 2021.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 9 March 2021.