Audiis known for sleek design and its latest concept electric car doesn’t disappoint. The "skysphere" is modeled on a 1930s Horch 853 (Horch being Audi founder August Horch’s first car company), but it looks more like the Batmobile.
Audi unveiled the skysphere at Monterey Car Week and in doing so, showcased one of the weirdest, most futuristic aspects of its design. When the car switches from human driving to self-driving mode, it literally changes shape!
This shape-shifting quality has people talking, but the advancements in car technology don’t stop there. This two-door convertible is capable of going 310 miles on a single charge, and with 465 kW of power, it can go from 0 to 100 km/h in just four seconds.
With the skysphere concept, Audi believes they can offer the comfort expected of
self-driving cars, without compromising on a quality driving experience.
The Audi skysphere: human driving mode
As reported by
CNN, Audi brand head Henrik Wenders said, "the skysphere aims to provide a beautiful driving experience for those who choose to operate it manually."
Audi has long boasted about the power and performance of its cars, and many of its customers are driving enthusiasts. With this in mind, the skysphere’s driveability is very important to their brand.
In human driving mode, the skysphere is essentially a race car. The lightweight of the frame, short wheelbase, low suspension, and rear-wheel drive ensures great steering and cornering grip at high speeds.
In a nod to sportscars of a bygone era, Audi has hidden a storage compartment behind the steering wheel containing a pair of leather driving gloves.
While these details have impressed driving enthusiasts, it is the skysphere’s ability to change shape when put into self-driving mode that has created the most buzz.
The Audi skysphere: self-driving mode
When the skysphere’s self-driving mode is activated, something amazing happens.
Firstly, a stunning digital display screen located at the front of the car begins to light up, and within a couple of seconds, the body of the skysphere begins to change shape.
The suspension raises up by almost half an inch, and with a series of cascading movements like the opening of a hand fan, the body expands by 10 inches from end-to-end.
This creates a longer wheelbase and hood, giving the skysphere a classier, more luxurious look.
Inside the vehicle, the steering wheel seamlessly folds into the dash and pedals fold into the footwell, giving the driver lots of room to spread out and relax.
Audi even provides a pair of rolled up blankets (stashed behind the driver’s seat) if the occupants wish to take a nap while the car drives itself.
Will the Audi skysphere be available to buy?
Unfortunately, if you are looking to
buy a new car, you will have to look elsewhere. At least for the next several years.
The Audi skysphere is amazing, but it is just a concept car, meaning much of the self-driving technology is yet to be developed.
Lots of road safety enthusiasts believe self-driving cars will reduce the number of traffic accidents, but even if Audi and other automakers can perfect this aspect, CNN suggests a length-changing car might struggle to pass crash safety tests.
Despite this, the Audi skysphere is a weird, wonderful, and ambitious concept, chock full of exciting new technology with real-world applications.
In fact, Audi has announced that it will use the skysphere to try out ideas, so many of the new features could crossover into consumer-facing models in the next couple of years.