A product of the Audi Design Loft in Malibu, the Skysphere concept was fittingly created and refined in a digital environment with International collaboration made possible through virtual reality.

12 August, 2021

Autonomous driving, all-electric drivetrain, full connectivity and an adjustable wheelbase. The Audi Skysphere concept sits at the very cutting edge of automotive design and engineering and points to an extraordinary future for mobility.

It is only fitting then, that such a vehicle should itself have been born of the very latest technology – developed by Audi designers on two continents without physical interaction, but rather via virtual reality (VR).

Aside from the first simple design sketches – still the starting point for a designer to physically describe their vision – the Audi Skysphere took shape and ultimately became a reality using the latest in digital design and VR technology.

From the Audi Design Loft in Malibu, which is a purely digital studio, the original idea, inspired by the brand’s past, took shape. The team of talented designers in the US working closely with their colleagues in Ingolstadt via online conferencing and virtual reality to work on digital models of the car as it progressed.

“We created it [Skysphere] in digital and sent it to Germany,” says Gael Buzyn, head of the Audi Design Loft in Malibu.

The car draws on the company’s heritage, using the Horch 853 as inspiration, but also on the rich car culture of Malibu and California, very much reflected in its open-top design.

All of these elements were workshopped and refined over a surprisingly short period and while the world was essentially in lockdown due to COVID, but neither distance nor restrictions created a barrier to the work.

“We meet with people who are 10,000km away, literally around the car using virtual reality,” says Buzyn of the process. The absence of the physical clay model far from being a drawback but instead allowing the work to proceed at an incredible pace.

The results, unveiled internationally just 24 hours ago, speak for themselves.

“We’ve tried to come up with an experience that goes way beyond what a roadster today offers,” says Buzyn.

“It’s a car with dual personality. It’s grand touring in autonomous mode, but it transforms into a true sportscar when it’s being driven.”

Most significantly, “It’s a vision of what Audi will be in the future.”

Gael Buzyn, Head of the Audi Design Loft in Malibu.