Spies in Disguise: a futuristic animated car hits the streets
It’s a wild chase through Washington: a helicopter is close on the tails of agent Lance Sterling and scientist Walter Beckett. Driving at high-speed between high-rises, collapsed bridges, and subway tunnels puts Beckett in a panic. But Sterling stays cool. He relies on his futuristic car: the Audi RSQ e-tron.
The elegant dark blue sports car with a glowing Audi logo sees the heroes safely through all their adventures in the animated film. The animated car is equipped with loads of extra features:
- With functions on demand, Lance books an add-on drive on the go.
- The fully autonomous driving mode lets them concentrate on their pursuers.
- A folding steering wheel gives Lance more legroom in autonomous driving mode.
- The hologram tachometer is the design highlight in the animated car.
- Laser light provides optimum visibility even in the most difficult situations.
- Steerable front and rear axles give the car maximum flexibility.
Wanted: one animated car for a film debut
The Audi RSQ e-tron is the first virtual car by Audi to be featured in an animated film. It was created by a team of five Audi designers, including Jan Poliak, an exterior designer. The design was inspired by race cars and airplanes, among other things.
The cooperation with Blue Sky Studios was a unique project for the team from Audi. “It is always exciting to see how other designers view our work,” says Jan Poliak. And the animated film is the perfect environment to see how the future of Audi might look.
Uniting the Audi design quality with Blue Sky Studios’ requirements was a challenge for the designers. They weren’t familiar with the script and didn’t know exactly what would happen in the animated film. Initially, the film studio only sent images for reference to Audi. But despite these difficulties, Jan Poliak now says, with a smile on his face: “It was one of the best projects that you could get as a designer.”
How the Audi RSQ e-tron was created
The laws of physics — and safety concerns — play no role whatsoever for a virtual car. That gives the designers a great deal of freedom in the design, despite the aesthetic specifications from the film studio. The animated futuristic car was created in about six months. The development of a real car, on the other hand, takes three to four years.
Audi developed a total of three different concepts for “Spies in Disguise.” The film company made its final decision in collaboration with the Audi designers. The specialists at the animation studio created the virtual car’s special spy equipment.
Futuristic test environment for the virtual car
To optimize the RSQ e-tron, the designers stepped into another world: they used
virtual reality to test the design of the autonomous car. To that end, Audi has special rooms, devices — and a special department. The designers also used a giant 3D screen to design the vehicle.
Although the wheels of the autonomous spy car will never touch the streets of the real world, development didn’t take place entirely on the computer. A physical model made of plastic or clay is the best way for the designers to check the proportions and quality of the design. “After all, we live in a physical world,” explains Jan Poliak.
By the way: the Audi RSQ e-tron even wins over Walter Beckett after the first wild ride. After the big chase scene, Lance Sterling asks him what he wants to do on his lunch break. Walter’s answer: to get behind the wheel of the Audi RSQ e-tron himself.