The Audi design UNIverse is a hotbed of ideas thought up by young talent. This is where the next generation of designers from internationally renowned universities showcase their ideas for the car of the future. Global, emotional, progressive – those are the criteria for successful design as far as Audi’s chief designer Marc Lichte is concerned. “Designers have to hit the Zeitgeist – of today and of tomorrow, in Germany and across the world. And they have to succeed in translating their passion into the car.”
This passion is evident among the 76 participants in the Audi design UNIverse. The students have spent a whole year refining their ideas. In the process, they developed their ideas, rejected many designs, sometimes discovered their idea was already out there and started over again from scratch. The brief was different for each of the participating universities – a futuristic sedan, new experiences in the car of the future, a premium service for the customers of tomo
But in all cases, the focus was on the car of the future. Be it Aalto University Helsinki, Scuola Politecnica di Design Milano, Technische Universität Dresden or Politecnico di Milano, certain elements featured in all the designs: The car of the future is driven by an electric motor and the technical components are reduced to a minimum to create space in the interior. The latter has a minimalist design; the operating elements are not recognizable as such and can only be controlled by touch or gesture. Depending on the driving mode, the steering wheel can disappear into the dashboard, because this car drives autonomously – in certain situations, at least. If the car is winding its own way through traffic, the focus for the occupants is on their experience within the car. Augmented and virtual reality, as well as large OLED screens, facilitate wellbeing and provide entertainment.
The wheels come from the 3D printer and can turn through 360 degrees. At least with this design, reverse parking is a thing of the past. Audi Quantum – a car intended as a quantum leap. Aesthetically and technologically superior. And a playful but realistic solution for the brief set by Audi Design: “Create a futuristic sedan.” What does that mean in the eyes of the young designer? It’s the year’s 2030. The Audi Quantum drives forward with a quiet whirr to pick up its customer Michael, who is sauntering casually toward his car. The four rings in the radiator grille switch from blue to red – his favorite color. The gullwing door swings upward, while the on-board music system plays Michael’s current favorite tune. How does the Audi Quantum know all this? It scans its customer’s retina as soon as he or she is within range. The car adapts immediately to his preferences, reading his every wish literally from his eyes.
This car lifts cues from shipping. The tires, for instance, are evocative of a ship’s propeller. “Sailing the streets” is his motto. Maximilian Schneider would like to bring the feeling of sailing to the roads of the future. How might this be done? Take a seat, belt up and head for the autobahn. Maximilian grips the steering wheel, puts his foot down and sets his sights on the first bend. The centrifugal force wants to push the Audi Move outward, but the car immediately begins to extend its sides. 480X270(4)
This brings stability and the visionary automotive catamaran sticks firmly to the road, even at high speeds. When he gets into town, Maximilian leans back. The memory metal of his seat relaxes and he settles back into the softening upholstery. The bodyshell of the Audi Move lifts itself up and the nimble sports car becomes a compact SUV. This car adapts to the road like a ship does to the swell.
The strong focus on the tires visualizes Audi’s quattro genes. Tradition and innovation unite beneath the dome of this futuristic sedan. Design student Caius Ferenczi based his styling on the Auto Union Type C Streamline. The powerfully accentuated tires in particular are highly evocative of the race car from the 1930s. 480x270(7)
The young designer chose an unusual approach in creating a modern interpretation of the classic, by venturing a completely new kind of vehicle production. Assembly lines and booming steel presses are passé. The car of the future is made from a drop of viscous fluid shaped into a bodyshell by robot arms. The result is a car with flowing, round forms. One particular feature of the Cruiseris the seats, which swing outward when the doors are opened.
There is no such thing as standard doors on this car. The driver and passenger enter it via the silver slots on the top surface. Exploring the city with a feeling of being in space. This is the objective pursued by Italian Alessandro Ren with his Audi Atlantis. Overalls and helmet on – and we’re off! But how do you even get into this flat flounder without doors? Alessandro grabs hold of the silver strip along the top of the car, which is made from iron extracted from a meteorite, and pulls it toward him. 480x270(9)
A small opening appears and Alessandro slides through it into the car. There’s a metallic click and the magnet on the back of Alessandro’s suit connects with the seat, making a seatbelt obsolete. Alessandro starts the electric motor and races off. Despite the high speed, there’s no feeling of air pressure – he is shielded by the suit and helmet.