Audi Skysphere & other things

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Audi Skysphere

Audi launched its latest concept car the Audi Skysphere. It’s electrically powered as you’d expect. Massive screens for displays and sustainable materials used in the interior. It has autonomous driving when its in a ‘grand touring’ mode. It allows for the owner to drive in a ‘sports car’ mode. All pretty normal stuff so far.

But sports car mode means that the vehicle length shrinks. That’s right the Audi Skysphere changes shape rather than just changing functions up via electronics.

In terms of styling, Audi calls calls jazz age Horsh tourers the influence for the Audi Skysphere. Audi is descended from Auto Union AG. Auto Union AG was formed in 1932, with the merger of Horch, DKW, Wanderer and the original Audi Automobilwerke. That’s why the Audi logo has four circles and why Horsh is the influence.

Its long, wide and low bonnet brings to mind the Dodge Viper. The sides reminded me of Ford’s ‘Edge’ design language, if it was done by Zaha Hadid Architects. Lots of the details such as the lights use a mass of small triangles, reminding me of Hadid’s Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion. It also serves a reminder that computerised shapes are usually made up of lots of small polygons. Triangles must be a thing in car design at the moment, not only does the Audi Skysphere feature them, but so does the new Hyundai Santa Cruz throughout its design.

Audi talks about the Audi Skysphere in terms of progressive luxury, which seems to be about experience and not making a huge environmental impact. They talk about vegan leather (that could be anything from fungi derived proteins to a PVC style plastic) and microfibre (finely spun and woven (usually) polyester / nylon fibre mix).

The problems are likely to be in the system that the car would go into.

  • How is insurance handled for an autonomous vehicle?
  • Who is the insured party? Vehicle manufacturers would like for it to be the owner who might be responsible for any autonomous vehicle decisions. Putting software product liability out of their hands and on the buyer.
  • Who would be the defendant in the case of someone being run over?
  • How would vehicle inspection tests like Germany’s TUV or the UK’s MOT handle a collapsable chassis?

I am a bit disappointed to see that Audi isn’t thinking seriously about a post Lithium world sodium ion batteries or hydrogen powered vehicles

Los Angeles Olympics 1984

The Los Angeles Olympics was the last olympic event that made a profit. This was down to the city being able to use existing venues for all the competitions and a less onerous demand on resources than games ran since then.

Los Angeles didn’t have the reputation for design that Munich or the 1964 games in Tokyo had. So this video by the Olympics gave me new insight into the experience. I remembered the logo and the mascot, but since I watched only a small amount of the LA Games. This was because I was working on the family farm at the time. The bits that I did see were on an old black and white TV, so I missed a lot of the design details shared.

Home-made silicon foundry

I’d not heard of Sam Zeloof before. Over the past few years he has managed to fabricate integrated circuits ‘chips’ in his own home. Admittedly when we say home, we are talking about a big American multi-car garage. The results is impressive. One obvious thing to point out is that he is not putting in dust suppression techniques like you would see in a commercial fab.

Solid Logic Technology

IBM came up with an interesting ceramic hybrid technology that powered the Apollo missions and IBM’s System 360 computers. They were engineered for a robustness that even silicon micro-processors couldn’t match.