• Audi CEO "What the Chinese do must be taken seriously"

  • 'Concept cars' 2021 Imagination and realities

Audi has uncovered this Tuesday its third autonomous mobility project,

a car baptized as Urbansphere

that has been built thinking more about habitability than pure performance.

For this reason, as happened with the two previous projects presented last year, it is difficult to catalog using traditional categories.

And, in addition,

Audi has announced a fourth 'sphere' that will extend the advance towards the future of the first three

.

However, benefits 'there are them': the

battery module

placed in the large space between axles has 120 kW of capacity to feed two electric motors with

295 kW or 401 horsepower, 690 Nm of torque

.

The

800-volt

charging technology allows recharging up to a limit of 270 kW in

the time it takes to fill up a gas tank

.

But all this, which has always been the important thing about a vehicle, goes into the background

.

inside out

We first saw the

Audi Skysphere

, a sleepless-night-long

roadster

that could be used for a leisurely self-drive ride or sporty performance from behind the wheel.

A few weeks later, Audi presented

another prototype

, a vision of the future that he baptized with the name of

Grandsphere

, as a large closed saloon, a vehicle even longer than the first

sphere

and fundamentally equipped to

travel without driving

, with all the comforts and services of

a house to the top of leading home automation

.

The two creations had the

fourth degree of autonomous driving

, which already

it does not need humans to drive

itself if the infrastructures collaborate.

And where does the

Urbansphere

take us , third (last only for now) of the saga, presented today?

Audi wants to introduce us to a kind of space trip

to tour the great Chinese megalopolises.

In fact, it was going to be physically presented at the

Beijing Motor Show

this week, but the

outbreak of Covid-19

that is shaking the great Asian state

has prevented it from being held

on the scheduled dates (April 21-30).

Chinese language

So Chinese is this third

sphere

of Audi that it has been designed in the studies of the German firm in Beijing and supervised from the headquarters of Ingolstadt (Germany).

Audi specifies that a few potential customers,

inhabitants of the megacities

of the People's Republic of China, have contributed their ideas during the development of the project and have followed its evolution in the design center.

Consequently, the prototypes that arrive in Europe at the end of a decade, converted into mass-produced models, will not be exactly the same as those circulating in China.

Europe is not Asia, but the concept will be identical.

The size of the Audi Urbansphere is

even larger than its two predecessor projects

.

It measures 5.51 meters long by 2.01 wide and 1.78 high, with a

wheelbase of 3.40 meters

.

And being so large, it does not admit more than four passengers, yes, in removable and variable orientation armchairs with varied applications to leave the body as new.

It is one of the answers to the question asked by

Silke Guse

, director of brand strategy at Audi.

"How will they use this car?"

And, of course, behind the same question different answers are piled up.

As attributed in the previous design, the Urbansphere has also been built

"from the inside out"

.

And more than ever before, what matters is the habitability and the experiences inside the... car?

Audi engineers explain that first the 'sphere'

or passenger compartment is configured with the needs and desires of the user and from these priorities the rest of the car is created.

For example, when the vehicle moves in fully autonomous mode, the visual and perceived space increases simply

by retracting the brake and accelerator pedals and hiding the steering wheel

.

'Red carpet'

If, as usual, the passage goes from the outside to the inside, that is, it is going to enter the Urbansphere, you will feel like a Hollywood star on the red carpet that leads to the interior of the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.

Because the Urbansphere extends

a red luminous corridor

to its interior, wide open with its

doors released from the central pillar

.

At the ends,

sculptural 24-inch wheels

will adorn the walkway.

"Experiences":

participate in a conference, buy tickets for the theater, enjoy a relaxation room or a private sphere so that everyone listens to the music they want or any other activity without disturbing the neighbor in a kind of personal bubble ...

If privacy is what you want, there's a retractable screen that unfolds behind the headrest and covers the passenger's head

.

And when thirst strikes, there is a mobile console to help yourself to cold water and glasses.

And if you just want to watch a movie or participate in a video conference, the

transparent screen from side to side

- which is divisible - allows extraordinary viewing quality for a

rolling cinema

.

when not in use, a luminous and transparent vision remains in accordance with the occupant's wishes for light.

More than

driving autonomy

: the owner or user does not worry about almost anything:

the Urbansphere picks him up at the agreed time in the indicated place and ensures that the batteries never run out of charge

.

What don't you want to drive?

Before your eyes you will see noble woods, synthetic or natural fabrics such as wool... But if you feel like getting behind the wheel, just by wanting to (getting to it) a whole jet of

light, information and assistance

for a efficient and safe driving that appear as if from nowhere.

The buttons, remote controls and applications make up a very long menu.

The MMI touchless response

system is striking ,

which is used in a reclining position to access the most varied functions through gestures and eye control,

a sensor aimed at the eye that interprets the needs of the occupant of the Urbansphere depending on where they direct their gaze .

It detects stress

and tries to eliminate it.

And it learns over time regardless of the method you use (

gesture, eye or voice

)

.

A car with feelings?

From the cabin out, the Urbansphere also shows... its feelings?

The

gigantic grille, which is no longer of cooling utility

like the classic ones in combustion-powered cars, not only remains to show the four Audi rings.

Millions of pixels are hidden throughout the front of the car

divided into three vertical zones.

Audi calls this front 'luminous canvas', whose drawings and colors emit a sign language to express traffic circumstances or the road on which it travels.

The outer segments of the Singleframe front are used to control the LEDs for dipped or high beams.

"The illuminated surfaces", says Audi,

"can be adapted to the traffic situation, the surroundings or even the mood of the passengers"

.

As it is built for China and with advice from citizens of this country, the Audi Urbansphere gives away a striking detail:

a 'luminous umbrella' inspired by traditional Chinese parasols

, which acts both as a protector from the sun or rain and as a 'flashlight' to be and be seen when leaving the vehicle, with specific sensors to cross a street... or give light to take a selfie! According to Audi.

It is clear that this vehicle is going down a path that no engineer has ever traveled before.

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  • China

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