Tech

Audi’s new electric concept car is a pickup truck-like luxury SUV with augmented reality

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The new concept car from Audi is an all-electric luxury SUV that can double as a small pickup truck and uses augmented reality glasses, indicating potential future technologies for the Volkswagen luxury brand.

The “Activesphere” vehicle’s rear glass can slide forward, opening the SUV’s flatbed trunk and providing an open area for hauling objects. The modular open cargo bed is referred to as an “active back” by Audi, but consumers shouldn’t necessarily anticipate seeing a production vehicle with this distinctive feature anytime soon.

During a briefing for the media, Audi brand strategy manager Philipp Gündert stated, “It’s a completely new range and a new possibility it affords to us. We at Audi are well known for trying out new things with cars … there’s also an Audi tradition to say, ‘Never say never.’ Although there’s no concrete plans, yet.”

As a way to enhance or supplement the driving experience, in-car augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) features have only recently been adopted by Audi. Since the Activesphere does have some autonomous features, using headsets to provide additional information about the vehicle shouldn’t necessarily be considered dangerous or distracting. After all, it’s just a concept.) Riders are also able to enjoy the entire experience while wearing these devices when the steering wheel and other driving controls retract.

The Activesphere has a lot of interesting design options, like carriage doors that make it easier to get inside the car and the retractable steering wheel that emphasizes the car’s autonomy.

In fact, there are a lot of moving parts in the Activesphere. From the base height of 208 millimeters, the vehicle’s ground clearance can be adjusted by as much as 40 millimeters. When driving on the road, it can also be lowered by the same amount. Thanks to a row of interlocking metal strips underneath the doors on either side, the driver can see when the vehicle moves up or down. To be believed, you really need to see it.

Concept cars are frequently used by automakers to gauge customer interest or demonstrate a brand’s or a vehicle’s future direction. The vehicles are not intended for consumer sale.

The gauges, controls, and other elements that are normally displayed on screens can be seen through the augmented reality glasses. The dashboard is clear and uncluttered without screens, allowing passengers to concentrate on their surroundings or the vehicle’s design.

An “invisible” or “digital” layer of vehicle controls and information is what Audi refers to as the controls. The displays, which it is calling “Audi Dimensions,” adapt to the driver’s current location and anticipated requirements. Gestures with the hands can be used to control everything.

The glasses could theoretically be used for distance, navigation, and other purposes both inside the vehicle and during activities like golf or hiking. In contrast to virtual reality, which is an all-encompassing separate environment, augmented reality glasses layer things over actual objects.

The augmented reality glasses, like the “active back,” are a concept for what might be in future automobiles, but they are unlikely to see production anytime soon.

Audi made it clear that it does not intend to manufacture its own augmented reality glasses. Instead, it would collaborate with other organizations to incorporate the technology into the vehicle.

A technology that is present in all of Audi’s “sphere” concept vehicles, the vehicle has a retractable steering wheel that can be used by humans but would stow away when the vehicle is in self-driving mode.

According to Audi, the term “sphere” is meant to represent the interior space for drivers and passengers inside the vehicle, essentially making it a second personal experience or living space. Since 2021, it has developed four “sphere” concepts.

In 2021, there was the Skysphere roadster, and in April 2022, there was the Grandsphere sedan and Urbansphere. All of the vehicles are modular and share futuristic design elements.

Gündert said that all of the concept cars will have parts that end up in production, including lighting and design. He stated that the Grandsphere’s performance model is the closest to a production vehicle.

Additionally, Audi claims that the rear hatch can be reconfigured into an open-air cargo bed that is ideal for transporting e-bikes or other outdoor gear. Similar to a pickup truck’s mid-gate, a partition raises to separate the riders from the back cargo area. It’s being called the “active back” by Audi.

The German automaker said that the Activesphere would “reinvent mobility as we know it today,” and it is the fourth in a series of concept cars. The first was the Skysphere, an electric convertible that looked like a villain and was sleek, and had an adjustable chassis. The Grandsphere, a roomy electric sedan whose interior appears to have been designed by a Kardashian, came next. The Urbansphere, a massive autonomous people mover designed for traffic-heavy megacities, was the third option.

Raeesa Sayyad

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