Eric Kim just graduated from the from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, at the end of the spring 2014 semester, and for his senior thesis project he came up with this futuristic Audi endurance racer called the Airomorph. He even got some input Audi designer Kris Vancoppenolle.

The Airomorph imagines a future Audi racer for Le Mans that features adjusting fabric panels to fine-tune the car's aerodynamics as it laps the course – a technology inspired by catamaran racing. "I started from scratch and had the freedom to deliver and execute a white space design for the future," said Kim to Autoblog via email. It's also somewhat similar to the idea behind BMW Gina concept, although Kim says that wasn't an inspiration for his design. The body here is made from a single piece of a silver, expansion-resistant material stretched over a frame underneath. The fabric anchors at the wheels, front and rear section with movable cables, and hydraulic actuators pull the wires to shift the aero as needed.

The actual shape echoes Audi endurance racers from the past and present. In profile, you can easily see the current R18 with its arcing cockpit and fin down the rear. Of course, that's interpreted through a little bit of Blade Runner with the covered wheels sticking out from the body. The front shows the rectangular shapes from the earlier R15. There doesn't appear to be any way to actually see out of the vehicle, though.

The Airomorph certainly presents and interesting view into the future and an interesting way to achieve some of the active aerodynamic effects that we see today in vehicles. He told Autoblog that he's now working as an automotive exterior designer at Ford Strategic Concepts Group in Irvine, CA.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Months Ago

      That looks comfortable.  Being able to see where you are going is highly overrated anyway.

      • 4 Months Ago

      Good thing it is a shape shifting thesis. I was worried it had to be a shape shifting racecar without quick means of entry or exit (how do you even get in?)  no way to be aware of your surroundings (periscope?), etc. Plenty of unanswered questions, like the size  of those fuel fillers? 

      May work better as an rc car. 

      Scott Ylinen
      • 4 Months Ago

      Not to rain on his parade, because it's generally a splendid design, but un-faired wire struts are horrible for aerodynamics. Even though they have a small cross sectional area, their circular cross section leads to turbulent flow. He should have used aero-struts to actuate the fabric instead. 

        • 4 Months Ago
        @Scott Ylinen

        I know it's a thesis project, but I recognized the same flaw.  Also, um, where are the damn tires?  Am I blind?

        I fully understand the high-level thinking that goes into concept designs like this.  The thing is, quite a few designers have zero (0) practical engineering knowledge.  This makes their designs only look good.  They can never be produced in their current form, as they are impossible to build economically - or at all.

        For a while I worked down the street from Nissan Design America in San Diego.  I wandered over to inquire about jobs.

        I said, "Hi, I'm a mechanical engineer with decent design skills.  I would like to design concept cars, as I can actually make them work."

        "Do you have a design education?"

        "No, I am a mechanical engineer who can actually make working products that look really awesome."

        "Sorry, we don't have a place for you."

        And this is why you will never, ever see a concept car go straight into production with absolutely no changes.

          • 4 Months Ago

          The simple answer to your inquiry is this:  

          Designers can learn engineering, and improve their practical engineering sense to increase feasibility in a 'far out' concept. 

          Engineers can not learn cant just cross over without the skills....   

          You can teach math to an artist but you cant teach art to a mathematician.  Think Da Vinci- artist and self taught engineer....was able to sketch and understand the functionality of objects centuries before any engineers could make them happen. 

          In this world, everything that works well can be traced back to simple, elegant shapes found in nature- and you can either see/draw these things or you cannot, its an inherent skill.....and if every designer listened to engineers, we wouldnt have any forward thinking objects beyond what already is....

          The reason you will see some concept cars go into production is when the philosophy of the company knows how to pair designers and engineers together...because when they work together, they create beautiful and functional machines. 

        • 4 Months Ago
        @Scott Ylinen

        I don't think any of the photos are close enough for you to tell if they are aero struts or not. That said. MORE STRUTS! KSP4eva!

      • 4 Months Ago

      Oh Autoblog, when will you realize that even well executed design STUDIES can not be well received by the majority of your readers....a good majority of whom are engineers checking in for a quick armchair critique before they go and fill out their excel reports....

      • 4 Months Ago

      Windows... It needs windows. 

      • 4 Months Ago

      I find it funny how some of you are commenting about potential flaws in the design. Did you not read the last sentence of the article? He's a designer at Ford now. Where do you work?

      • 4 Months Ago

      TRON. ;)

      • 4 Months Ago

      The design is a neat exercise, but I can't get past such a horrid article. Chris Bruce, please proof read. Repeating and mispelled words litter the article.

      Bob Funn
      • 4 Months Ago

      Morphing is capable... :P

      But really cool work here!

      • 4 Months Ago

      The moving fabric reminds me of the BMW GINA from a few years ago. (check youtub e) Except this is concept model and the BMW was a driveable concept.

      • 4 Months Ago

      I think it might not have windows because instead, it has cameras.  It's controlled remotely, I suspect.  Interesting concept for the future of racing.

      I wonder if it can shape shift into something that rolls.

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