After lots of teasing, the Audi Urbansphere concept is finally here as the latest member of the brand's future visions for autonomous driving. For this model, the brand puts the focus on driving in densely populated megacities.
The Urbansphere concept came from work at the Audi design studios in Beijing and Ingolstadt. The company even interviewed potential customers in China to find out what they wanted from a vehicle like this.
Gallery: Audi urbansphere concept
A High-Tech Interior
Audi designed the interior of the Urbansphere first, and then came up with an exterior to fit all of the potential customers' requests. The purpose is for the vehicle to be a lounge on wheels that gives occupants a serene space while travelling through the hustle and bustle of a city.
Inside, there are four seats across two rows. This allows for enough room for the chairs to tilt as much as 60 degrees, and there are extending leg rests that deploy. The headrests wrap around the occupant to give them a feeling of seclusion, and each one has speakers integrated into them.
The infotainment system for the rear passengers is on a transparent screen that pivots down from the ceiling. The display is nearly as wide as the cabin. Occupants can share the screen if they want to watch the same thing, or they can split what it's showing.
Eye-tracking and cameras monitor the occupants at all times. Even when the seat is fully reclined, people just need to move their hands to control the system. Sensors can also detect whether a person is stressed, and the vehicle can suggest activating a meditation app.
A neat touch for the dashboard is that the instruments project onto a wood panel that spans the vehicle's entire width. A sensor detects where a person touches to manipulate it.
Like the other members in this family of Audi concepts, the Urbansphere has level 4 autonomous capability. This means there are conventional controls if a person wants to drive, but the vehicle can also pilot itself. Audi claims this tech could be on the market by the second half of this decade.
A Simple Exterior
It's not easily noticeable in Audi's photos, but the Urbansphere is huge in comparison to the brand's other offerings. The vehicle is 5.51 metres (216.9 inches) long, which gives it the largest interior volume in Audi's history. For reference, a 2022 Cadillac Escalade is 5.382 metres (211.9 inches) long.
The Urbansphere's body blends the look of a van and a crossover. The exterior has a minimalist aesthetic. The front is blunt with a short overhang. There's a steeply raked windscreen that flows into a flat roof. The flanks have subtle sculpting that provides visual appeal without being flashy.
The nose and tail feature large arrays of triangular LED lights that can illuminate in complex patterns. In addition to functioning as the headlights and tail lamps, these elements can display messages to other road users like flashing a large, red X or being a big turn signal.
The Urbansphere has suicide doors. When opened, a red light projects onto the ground, and the seats swivel toward the people entering the vehicle.
A Big Battery
The Urbansphere rides on Audi's Premium Platform Electric and has a battery with a capacity of over 120 kilowatt-hours. The estimated range on a charge is 466 miles (750 kilometres).
The Urbansphere is supposed to transport people around cities, so power isn't this vehicle's focus. An electric motor on each axle provides a total of 396 bhp (295 kilowatts) and 509 pound-feet (690 Newton-metres) of torque.