The private jet for the road – At the IAA 2021, Audi is presenting the Audi grandsphere concept study. Like a first class flight, the 5.35 m (17.6 ft.) long grandsphere sedan combines the luxury of private travel in the greatest of comfort with a comprehensive onboard experience offering. Level 4 automated driving makes new dimensions of freedom possible: in this mode, the interior turns into a spacious sphere of experience without a steering wheel, pedals, or displays. And the front seats become a first class lounge with maximum space, freer views, and access to all the functions of a holistic digital ecosystem that the Audi grandsphere is integrated into. As the second of three “sphere” concept cars from the brand with the four rings, the Audi grandsphere has a special place.
The electrically driven roadster Audi skysphere concept debuted in August 2021 – it was a spectacular vision of an automatically driving GT that transforms into a self-driving sports car with a variable wheelbase. These two concept cars – as well as the Audi urbansphere, which will appear as the third part of the trio in 2022 – are linked by their overall concept, which is derived from their ability to drive automatically at level 4. Audi is working with CARIAD, the Volkswagen Group’s software think tank, toward introducing that technology in the second half of the decade. The Audi grandsphere concept illustrates the brand’s claim that it is becoming the trendsetter at the top of the automotive industry for technological transformation and completely new, holistic mobility offerings.
Even the “sphere” in the name sends a signal: the heart of the Audi skysphere, grandsphere, and urbansphere concept vehicles is always the interior. The drive system and the handling are no longer at the top of the design specifications in this new generation of cars. Instead, the starting point is the interior, the occupants’ living and experience sphere while traveling. Their needs and desires shape the space, the architecture, and the functions. With that reassessment, the design process itself changes. At the beginning of all discussions, the focus is directed toward the interior and its design. Only after that do we design the package, exterior lines, and proportions that shape the car into a total work of art, along with the technological premises. These concept cars feature a new design that ultimately reimagines the interior, the passenger compartment, as the center of the vehicle and no longer subordinates the passenger experience to the requirements of the technology.
The doors of the Audi grandsphere concept are reversed so front and back touch; there is no B-pillar. The whole world of the interior opens up to passengers as soon as they climb in. But even before that, the Audi grandsphere has identified its passengers with a pathway identification – an innovative feature – that opens the doors and welcomes them with individually staged displays and ambient light. The driver and passenger positions are automatically detected and an array of personal comfort features – such as the climate control settings and the seats – are adjusted for the individual seats. At the same time, the infotainment system accesses the passengers’ most recently used services and seamlessly resumes them inside the car. For instance, a video that a passenger was streaming on a tablet is automatically played back over the display surface in the Audi grandsphere.
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