Forget the rear spoiler, the Audi Airomorph changes shape to cheat the wind

Today’s Audi R18 e-tron quattro is about as advanced as a car can get. The Le Mans-winning racer features a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain, and lightweight bodywork that wouldn’t look out of place in outer space.

Where will race cars go from here, though?

That’s the question Art Center College of Design student Eric Kim sought to answer with the Audi Airomorph. His senior thesis project at the prestigious design school, it represents one possible future for racing.

RELATED: Are rotary-driven hybrids the future of endurance racing?

Created with input from Audi designer Kris Vancoppenolle, the Airomoprh uses fabric panels to adjust aerodynamics as it laps a course, a technology inspired by racing catamarans, according to Autoblog.

The “body” is made from a single sheet of expansion-resistant material that’s stretched over a rigid frame underneath, and has to be inflated like a balloon. It’s anchored at the wheels with cables. Hydraulic actuators tug on the cables to change the shape of the fabric on the fly.

Designers are always trying to balance the yin and yang of drag and downforce, but the Airomorph could theoretically emphasize both, and switch from one to the other as needed.

In profile view, the Airomorph looks somewhat like the current R18, with a prominent vertical stabilizer fin. However, the wheels look decidedly sci-fi.

There may be some as-yet-univented propulsion system intended for this futuristic racer, as well as a system for seeing out of it, as there don’t appear to be any windows.

The Airomorph is just a design concept, of course, but it shows that no matter how advanced today’s cars may appear to be, there are always new things to try.

(Images courtesy of Eric Kim)

Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.

Volkswagen may be planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car may head to the Nürburgring in 2019 for a lap-record attempt, according to a new report. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Smart Home

Is old-school Airstream finally embracing smart home technology?

Airstream's vintage-looking trailers have a huge audience but its 2019 Classic camping trailers are getting a modern upgrade with the addition of app-controlled smart home technology to bring modern convenience online.

Did that car just wink at you? Daimler previews car-to-pedestrian signals

Eager to show off progress with autonomous cars and perhaps do some consumer softening as well, Daimler and Bosch previewed car-to-pedestrian communications. A sensor-loaded Mercedes S appears to wink to acknowledge a pedestrian's presence.

Uber is about to restart self-driving car tests but on a reduced scale

Uber is reported to be on the verge of restarting its autonomous-car test program. The company halted it in March 2018 following a fatal accident involving one of its vehicles, but its cars could be back on the road within weeks.

Bosch is developing a Rosetta Stone for autonomous and connected cars

Bosch and start-up Veniam want to create a common language that autonomous and connected cars can use. The two firms have developed a connectivity unit that transcends the national boundaries of technology.

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.

600-hp, $155K Polestar 1 is the alluring Volvo coupe you’ve been waiting for

Volvo's return to the coupe segment just took an interesting turn: the model will join the Polestar lineup, and it will get a 600-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The Polestar 1 will be built in China starting in 2019.

The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake is the sexiest wagon ever

Aston Martin has revealed new photos of the limited-production Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. The Vanquish Zagato line now includes the Shooting Brake, Coupe, Volante, and Speedster, each with bespoke styling.

Nissan and Italdesign’s GT-R50 concept will become a $1.1 million reality

The Nissan GT-R50 is a customized sports car built to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and design firm Italdesign. Underneath the sleek bodywork sits a 710-horsepower engine fortified with race car components.

Ford’s new Shelby GT500 Mustang will have 3D-printed brake parts

Ford's new $45 million Advanced Manufacturing Center will focus on emerging technologies, including 3D printing. One of the staff's first jobs is to print parts for the 700-horsepower Shelby GT500 Mustang.

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.

World’s fastest electric race car to display at Petersen Museum

The Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak race car smashed the all-time record at the hill climb for which it was named. The all-electric VW record-holder will be on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles until February 1, 2019.