Jorge Diez, designer at Audi Concept Design in Munich, talks about designing the first Audi to drive on the moon.
Señor Diez, in designing an extraterrestrial vehicle like the lunar rover, are you striving for an extraterrestrial design or an extraordinary design?
Diez: Here at Audi Concept Design in Munich we are very open-minded, because we work on a lot of different future concepts. In our department, we need to continually test the limits of a design. Designing the lunar rover is of course a task that requires an entirely new approach. First, we must precisely look at the conditions under which the rover will drive on the moon, and then the design must be made to accommodate the project’s technical requirements.
So, does the lunar rover need to look entirely different than a normal car?
Diez: Good automotive design must express the strengths of the object, and in a sporty car, it is necessary to convey the feeling of dynamism. It is a bit different with the lunar rover: Here, the design must display the technology and all of its components while still expressing its Audi identity. In every type of vehicle, the goal is to develop the brand’s design language in the vehicle’s individual context – this also applies to the lunar rover.
The lunar rover will primarily be defined by its highly specialized technology which must not be impaired by the design. Do you perceive these technical requirements as a hindrance, or do they present you with new opportunities?
Diez: At first, this is perceived as a bit of a hindrance, but then it becomes more of a challenge. We need to clearly understand that a lunar rover is driven under conditions which simply do not exist in our world. The temperature differences are extreme – there is a difference of 300 degrees Celsius between the side of the moon facing away from the sun and the side with solar radiation. In designing the rover, a high-performance thermal management system is therefore needed.
The next aspects to be considered are materials and lightweight design. Due to the radiation on the moon, the rover must be made of high-strength aluminum and magnesium. And just like all normal Audi models, the vehicle must be very lightweight, because the transport costs, which are already very high, depend highly on its weight. Finally, the same basic specifications apply to both a lunar rover and an Audi on Earth – only they are much more extreme for the rover. They are: efficiency, lightweight design, e-tron power and the best drive system for each type of driving surface. A car from Audi has a quattro drive – and so does the lunar rover. But on the moon we must protect the rover from the very fine sand that is powder-like.
Is the lunar rover a vehicle in which form follows function?
Diez: Yes, definitely. Because of conditions on the moon, we must intensively rethink every design detail, even the smallest of details. It is not simply elegance that counts here, but primarily the effectiveness of the rover. The design must serve the purpose of driving on the moon, but it must also express the familiar aesthetics that are expected of an Audi.
In designing a car, you have large proportions available to you to develop its lines. The lunar rover is a very small vehicle – how does this affect the design process?
Diez: The way in which we have drawn up the rover is more similar to the approach we use in interior design. In this area, Audi has the highest quality in the entire automotive world. In the rover we work very much as we do on the interiors of our cars. We design it element by element with absolute perfection.
In the rover, there are no large surfaces or long lines by which we would normally visualize movement. It expresses something entirely different. With this knowledge in mind, we work on the details until we have achieved perfection. When combined to make a whole, these details form an iconic and logical design.
Is it important for the viewer to recognize the rover as an Audi at first glance?
Diez: Audi design is continually developing further, but its philosophy remains the same. We come from the Bauhaus tradition of functional forms and technical precision. We have core values that people can see in each of our designs, regardless of whether it is an airplane or a piece of furniture. This essence will also be visible in the rover, but it will be interpreted in a very unique way.
Does the rover offer any hints about future Audi design?
Diez: Perhaps not in its styling, but certainly in the way in which we take on the challenge of creating something beautiful that must prove itself under all thinkable extreme conditions. Each of us on the team is full of passion about this process. This design comes from our hearts and our dedication – and that is why we are able to overcome existing boundaries and limits.
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