Studies such as the Audi grandsphere concept show what tomorrow’s mobility could look like. Here, you can catch another glimpse of how we’ll get from A to B in the future with the Audi sphere concept cars.
With the Audi grandsphere concept, the brand with the Four Rings is unveiling its vision of progressive luxury for first-class travel, including an interior offering new experiences.
The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.
To open your mind to the Four Rings’ vision of mobility that inspired the new Audi grandsphere concept, you need to play a little game of make believe. Imagine yourself in a time, probably the not too distant future, when vehicles will operate automated on demand and the traditional cockpit transforms into a spacious lounge. Now imagine what possibilities that unlocks for the occupants to experience their new-found freedom on board — using it to communicate, enjoy quiet me-time, work, or relax. As such, the Audi grandsphere is a natural progression of the “experience device” approach the carmaker initiated with the Audi skysphere concept.
Unsurprisingly, the design of the Audi grandsphere focuses on the interior. Since the doors of the Audi grandsphere open in opposite directions and there is no B-pillar, the passengers are given an expansive welcome into the full sweep of the interior. Space, architecture and functions take their cue from the occupants’ needs.
When set to automated driving mode, the steering wheel and pedals disappear. Since the front seats of the 2+2 sedan are then no longer driver-oriented, occupants enjoy a generously proportioned space. Their positioning is optimized depending on their function. When in the upright position, they provide a comfy, ergonomic seat for the driver to operate the Audi grandsphere via the steering wheel and pedals as usual. Once the occupants hand over control to the automated system, the backrest can be reclined by as much as 60 degrees, creating a comfortable resting position. Thanks to outlets and speakers integrated into the backrest, the occupants can enjoy filtered, temperature-controlled, even scented air as well as a private sound zone that’s inaudible to other passengers.
To complement the interior’s superior levels of personalized comfort, the Audi grandsphere boasts digital amenities that ensure time on board can be spent in a highly efficient or relaxing way. Even before passengers take their seats, the Audi grandsphere uses gait recognition to identify the occupants and welcomes them with personalized displays and ambient light. Each occupant’s seat position and various other unique comfort features are automatically set and activated.
Thanks to dedicated Audi services and integrated digital ones, everyday tasks aside from driving are handled in the background. With information about their current destination already programmed in, for instance, the automated Audi grandsphere concept picks up its passengers and independently handles parking and recharging. In similar style, the infotainment system accesses passengers’ most recently used services — e.g. on a connected smartphone — and smoothly resumes them inside the car.
What’s more, existing connections to music and video providers are seamlessly imported from a mobile to the newly designed experience device. If, say, the passengers were streaming a video on a tablet before getting into the car, this automatically continues playing on the right-hand display surface in the Audi grandsphere. The projection surface on the driver’s side likewise displays the messages the person was reading before getting in. By increasingly combining individuals’ lifestyles with mobility, Audi is defining tomorrow’s progressive luxury. Part of that is a complete absence from the Audi grandsphere of both screens and traditional round instruments. Instead, occupants can enjoy the calming influence of minimalist wooden surfaces that surround them. As a result, doing a digital detox while traveling in a highly digitalized vehicle is by no means a contradiction in terms.
Displays are projected onto these wooden surfaces only when activated by a finger gesture, for example. Depending on the driving mode—manual or automated—they are either distributed across the entire width of the interior or segmented for the driver and front-seat passenger. When the Audi grandsphere is in automated driving mode, the projection surfaces can serve as screens for infotainment content or video conferencing. In addition, a sensor bar integrated under the projection surfaces allows for rapid switching between content, such as alternating between music and navigation. It shows all the functions and applications that are active in the car. Icons light up for each of the various menus.
The MMI touchless response is located on the interior cladding, near the door cutout. Whenever the driver takes control of the car and is seated close behind the steering wheel, they can use that system’s rotary ring and buttons to select various function menus. In automated mode with the front seats pushed back, a combination of eye tracking and gesture control is used. By following the line of sight, a sensor directed at the eye can determine when to engage the control unit. Without leaning forward or touching anything, passengers can operate the system just by using hand gestures. Whatever the operation mode the Audi grandsphere concept adapts to the user, learning their preferences and frequently used menus. That means the car is capable of not only completing rudimentary commands but also offering personalized suggestions.
The Audi grandsphere concept also offers a glimpse of a new interpretation of the Audi brand look. Located behind a transparent covering, the signature Audi Singleframe takes the form of a flat hexagon whose interior surfaces are indirectly illuminated from above when driving. This creates a striking, highly sculptural effect. Sitting on top of the Singleframe, the headlight units reference the brand logo with its four rings. By enlarging and isolating the intersecting area between two of the four Audi rings, a pupil emerges and with it a new, distinctive digital light signature. Depending on the traffic situation, the size of the headlights can be adjusted for use as either daytime running lights.