Concept Corner: Audi Skysphere

This is the Audi skysphere – a truly spectacular-looking concept roadster from the German carmaker.

One of three upcoming concept cars (which includes the Audi grandsphere, and the Audi urbansphere) the skysphere is designed for level 4 autonomous driving and, as you’d expect of a concept from Audi, there’s all manner of high-tech funkiness going on here to complement the science-fiction looks of the electric-powered, two-door convertible.

Most notable is a variable wheelbase. Audi says the skysphere is designed for two different driving experiences: a grand touring experience and a sports experience. And this is done by the spectacular technical detail of being able to alter the car’s wheelbase.

At the touch a button, and thanks to electric motors and some clever engineering, body and frame components that slide into one another make it possible to vary the wheelbase itself and the exterior length of the car by 250mm. At the same time, the vehicle’s ground clearance is adjusted by 10m.

So, the 4.94m-long e-roadster can be in ‘Sports’ mode with a reduced wheelbase, or it can be in ‘Grand Touring’ mode and be a 5.19m GT.

The skysphere has rear-wheel steering and adaptive air suspension, and steering takes place via a steer-by-wire system that controls both the front and the rear wheels. Because the system is not mechanically connected to the front axle, the driver can select different steering ratios and steering settings at the touch of a button.

As mentioned, the skysphere is designed to be capable of Level 4 self- driving, and the steering wheel and pedals slide away and disappear while in GT mode when autonomous driving is engaged. Very cool.

Audi is, of course, a luxury and performance carmaker and taking advantage of all the technology available today means the skysphere offers top-shelf connected services and interior gadgetry.

Large touch-monitor surfaces – 1415 mm wide, 180 mm high – on the dashboard and in the upper area of the centre console are used to operate the vehicle and infotainment systems.

In Grand Touring mode, this can be used to display content from the Internet, video conferences, or streamed movies.

Power comes via an electric motor positioned on the rear axle, and there’s a total of 465kW of power and 750Nms of torque on hand.

Battery modules are primarily positioned behind the cabin but located between the seats too for optimum weight distribution. And with 80kWh capacity, the Skysphere has a range of 500km. It weighs in at 1800kg, and Audi says the car is good for 0-100km/h in about four seconds.

Source: Motor Trader e-Magazine (September 2021)

30 September 2021

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