Self-Driving Cars

The Audi grandsphere self-driving limo concept says goodbye to traditional screens

After introducing the Audi skysphere convertible GT concept last month, Audi has continued the range of “sphere” concept cars with the Audi grandsphere flagship limousine. This concept study is also rumoured to have plenty of design and technological elements that will be funnelled into the new generation Audi A8.

Unlike a two-in-one convertible sportscar GT concept of the Audi skysphere, the Audi grandsphere is the polar opposite offering seating for four in the most spacious and comfortable environment. Audi has specifically mentioned exterior design and handling are no longer at the top priorities, switching to interior and then moving outwards.

As such, all the details and highlights are focused on the interior of the Audi grandsphere concept. Occupants are welcomed to the magnificent living space through the widest door opening thanks to the absence of the central B-pillar. Traditionally, the boss’ seat is at the rear, such as in the Audi A8, but with the technological advantage of fully autonomous technology, the steering column and foot pedals are no longer fixed structures and only deployed when needed.

In the imagined Level 4 fully autonomous mode, the two controllers are hidden away, allowing for unrestricted movement and plenty of space for the seat originally assigned for the driver. The dashboard has been designed in a horizontal theme that wraps around the two front occupants.

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Using the latest projection technology, Audi has managed to remove cumbersome and rigid two-dimensional display screens for a neat dashboard that looks more like a hand-crafted working desk. Wool and wood, synthetic textile fabrics and metal are visible and pleasant to touch covering the cabin and seats. Leather is no longer used in the interiors of both concept and production cars.

All driving and infotainment content are now projected to the wooden surface of the crafted dashboard. With the fitment of private jet-styled fully reclining seats of up to 60-degree angle and private audio speakers, new interaction mediums in the MMI have been created, such as eye-tracking and gesture control.

Sensors in the door-mounted MMI touchless control can track the movement of the occupant’s eyes and combining with gesture control to allow for the operation of the in-car multimedia system.

The occupants upfront can further enjoy their fully autonomous ride to their destination with refreshments being chilled in storage space between the front seats.

The Audi grandsphere is a large car, measuring even longer than today’s large limousines at 5.35 m in length. The rear design has been shaped as such for better aerodynamics, as well as associating itself with the Audi Sportback tradition.

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Powering the Audi grandsphere concept is a dual-motor configuration for Quattro all-wheel drive traction and stability. Two electric motors and a battery pack with an energy content of 120 kWh deliver a system output of 721 hp and 960 Nm of torque. The driving range is in excess of 750 km, matching the Mercedes-Benz EQS, with charging time as low as 25 minutes to reach 80% battery capacity.

After revealing sporty coupe and this flagship limousine, no prizes for guessing the third and final car under the ‘sphere’ range of concept cars will be a crossover or SUV. Audi has even given it the ‘urbansphere’ naming, perhaps a more compact dimensions to suit the tight confines of a metropolis. The new range of only electric vehicles will commence as soon as 2026.



Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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