Audi has created a sleek, low electric one-off roadster concept with a variable-geometry wheelbase that transforms between autonomous Grand Tourer mode and a sports car.
The Audi Sky Sphere — the first of three electric vehicle concepts that will lay out a path for the brand as it transitions beyond the internal combustion engine — will be on display at this week's Concours d'Elegance events in Pebble Beach, Calif. The two still-unrevealed concepts are called Grand Sphere and Urban Sphere, and they are intended to define how users will interact with vehicles with Level 4 autonomous capabilities, as well as how those vehicles interact with their surroundings.
The Sky Sphere has a cool, defining trick — one that is very likely to remain in concept form, given regulatory requirements: the "engine bay" and front wheels retract nearly 10 inches rearward while a steering wheel and foot pedals appear in the cockpit when the user transitions from autonomous mode into taking command of the vehicle. The transition, which takes several seconds, gives the concept "dual personalities," says Henrik Wenders, senior vice president of Audi AG.