The Audi Elite Concept is the work of Eric Leong. The concept was presented at the Umea Institute of Design 2012 Degree Show. What’s most remarkable about the Audi Elite concept isn’t its dramatic styling, its race-car like single-seat layout, or even its radical “artificial photosynthesis process” which somehow powers it? The Audi Elite’s real selling point is the completely revolutionary control system.
Instead of a steering wheel and a set of pedals, the driver controls the Audi Elite with their whole body. The driver almost wears the car like an extension of their body. The driver’s hands and forearms are placed in two separate mechanical arms which can swivel, pivot, push and pull providing control over the direction of the car. The foot pedals are also multifunction; with both a simple ankle pivot mechanism and a more unusual push/pull movement integrated into each pedal.
The idea behind the concept’s control mechanism is that as the driver becomes more and more capable, the car unlocks more power and abilities for the driver to explore. It essentially turns the driver into a highly skilled athlete whose body movements are transferred into an infinitely adjustable control interface for the car. If you’re opposed to the increasing automation of modern vehicles, then this is the antidote. A car which responds to EVERY movement of your body.
For an independent concept Leong’s concept is incredibly well thought out. He even went to the trouble of developing a full-size mock-up of the control arms in order to evaluate the design and ergonomics. From there he proceeded to develop a 1:4 scale model and numerous sketches and renderings of the design which show the vehicle from every angle and in high detail.
However Leong wasn’t all alone in developing the Elite. Audi themselves were sponsoring the project, and Eric’s mentor was Klemens Rossnagel, Head of Concept Design at Audi’s studio in Munich.
I can’t imagine the next A3 will feature and of Leong’s unusual contraptions. But it’s always good to see some genuine creativity.
And here’s some food-for-thought; a one-make race series with these things would be awesome!