The next Audi A8 is set to be a leader in autonomous driving technology, beating even the recently-updated Mercedes-Benz S-Class when it enters showrooms later this year. According to Autocar, Ingolstadt’s flagship luxury sedan will be the first car to come with Level 3 autonomy, which will enable the car to take full control of driving duties.

Audi’s traffic jam pilot system will reportedly work at speeds of up to 60 km/h, as long as the road ahead has physical separations (like a barrier) between two sides of traffic. As such, the driver can shift focus on other tasks such as reading, but will have to be ready to take control if the traffic situation requires human input, and will be given between eight and ten seconds’ notice beforehand.

By contrast, the new S-Class’ Intelligent Drive system will only allow up to 30 seconds of handsfree driving, and will require drivers to keep their eyes on the road at all times. The suite of driver assists includes Active Distance Assist Distronic that will adjust the speed automatically for corners and junctions, and will work at speeds of up to 210 km/h.

Also included is Active Steering Assist with Evasive Steering Assist to help avoid errant pedestrians, as well as Active Lane Changing Assist; the latter will change lanes autonomously between 80 and 180 km/h. Active Braking Assist autonomous braking, on the other hand, now gets a new cross-traffic function and congestion emergency braking function.

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler mentioned during the company’s annual press conference that only government legislation would stop the new A8 from driving fully autonomously in public. Autocar reported, however, that European governments are eyeing a change in legislation to allow the use of self-driving tech.

SPYSHOTS: 2018 Audi A8