the extra hour: AUDI installation at design miami envisions the personal potential of self-driving cars

the extra hour: AUDI installation at design miami envisions the personal potential of self-driving cars


if you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it? this question — and the limitless possibilities it suggests — is at the heart of AUDIs latest creative collaboration.


at design miami/ 2016, AUDI presents ‘the extra hour’, an installation that symbolizes the sense of freedom offered by autonomous driving. developed in collaboration with the LEGO group, the project places the AUDI RS 7 piloted driving concept at the center of a giant clock face, with an enormous numeral ’25’ — the extra hour — made completely from LEGO bricks. we spoke with nils wollny — AUDI’s head of digital business strategy and customer experience — about the concept of the installation, the AUDI RS 7, and what he would do with an extra hour each day.



nils wollny takes us through the thinking behind the AUDI installation at design miami/
video by designboom



it is estimated that people in western cultures spend an hour each day driving a motor vehicle. with the introduction of self-driving cars, AUDI says this ‘lost time’ could soon be spent more productively, as drivers’ hands and minds are freed up for other things. those operating such vehicles could catch up on emails, read a book, or spend time with other passengers. consequently, the AUDI of tomorrow will be a place to work, relax, and enjoy a wide range of different experiences. this valuable gain in time is symbolized by the giant number ’25’, realized in red and black LEGO bricks. the installation — which was developed specifically for the exhibition — celebrates AUDI’s 10 year partnership with design miami/, which began in 2006. 

AUDI design miami
the AUDI of tomorrow will be a place to work, relax, and enjoy a wide range of different experiences
image © 2016 max reed for AUDI AG (also main image)



at the core of the installation is the AUDI RS 7 piloted driving concept, known as ‘the world’s sportiest self-driving car’. the automated vehicle is technology platform, which the company is using to explore the possibilities of piloted driving. the large, five-door coupé is largely identical to the production model, however the electro-mechanical power steering — along with brakes, the throttle valve, and the eight-speed tiptronic that distributes the power to the mechanical quattro drive system — is all controlled automatically.


last year, designboom was taken for a test drive by the AUDI RS 7 in barcelona. see more about our experience inside the high powered four door sedan at full throttle — from its sensor technology and data processing, to vehicle control and stabilization — here.

AUDI design miami
AUDI celebrates its 10 year partnership with design miami/
image © 2016 max reed for AUDI AG



watch our short film above, where wollny takes us through the thinking behind the installation, and read on for his thoughts in full below.


nils wollny (NW): I am the head of business strategy at AUDI — I’m basically thinking about new business models and how digitalization will affect our business model. of course, piloted driving plays a major role in this area. we are currently thinking a lot about the ‘the extra hour’ because in the western world people operate a car for approximately one hour per day. if you have piloted driving technology, this hour is freed up and you can start reading a book or working, writing emails — but for us this doesn’t go far enough. we look very closely at all the topics that go beyond the product, like how technology will influence the behavior of people, business, and also society or cities in general. 

AUDI design miami
the LEGO installation was developed specifically for the exhibition
image courtesy of AUDI



DB: can you talk about the concept presented here for design miami/?


NW: what you see here is an installation of ‘the extra hour’. you can see the car in the middle and the big clock, and we have this 25 up there built up from LEGO bricks. basically it symbolizes the 25th hour and the creative power that might be unleashed when people have an extra hour per day — how they can use it and what they will create.

AUDI design miami
an enormous numeral ’25’ — the extra hour — is made completely from LEGO bricks
image © designboom 



DB: so with this concept, how is AUDI trying to redefine the way that we drive and experience and even go about everyday things?


NW: for me personally, if you look at technology today, it’s still a lot about the ‘driving experience’ and in the future, with the help of piloted driving, it will be more about experience driving. cars will change, the interior design will change, the behavior — how we interact with vehicles — will change, so that’s what we are looking at closely and of course, creativity and design plays a major role in this.

the project places the AUDI RS 7 piloted driving concept at the center of a giant clock face
image courtesy of james harris / design miami



DB: how did the collaboration with LEGO come about, and how do you feel about it now that you’ve seen it?


NW: when I first heard about this possible collaboration I thought, ‘that’s surprising’, that’s unusual‘, but if you look a bit closer, LEGO and AUDI have a lot in common. it’s all about imagination and about how technology or creativity will change the future. LEGO has a proposition inspiring the builders of tomorrow, and our proposition for ‘vorsprung durch technik’ was in the same direction, it was all about creativity and imagination, especially when you think about the future. that is basically how it fits together. of course, LEGO is playful too — and that’s fun!

AUDI design miami
the AUDI RS 7 piloted driving concept is known as ‘the world’s sportiest self-driving car’



DB: what excites you about the future of technology in cars?


NW: there are basically four different forces influencing the mobility in this history, automotive history: the connectivity of cars, so they become a part of the ins-and-outs of things; we have the electrification of cars; autonomous driving as a technology; and the user behavior of on-demand mobility — everything should be at your finger tips.

AUDI design miami
with the introduction of self-driving cars, AUDI says that ‘lost time’ could soon be spent more productively



(continued) these four forces change the mobility of the automotive industry as we know it today, and that’s quite exciting because one of these movements would be enough to turn the industry upside down. there’s a lot of creative energy and there’s a lot of change in this industry — it’s exciting!

thousands of LEGO bricks form a pathway that leads to the car 



DB: if you had an extra hour, how would you spend it?


NW: probably, if I had an extra hour, I would use it a bit more for entertainment. because I think about this technology and how it will come together with other technologies, and in this context I think a lot about virtual reality. with that within a car, together with virtual reality, you can create whole new experiences like driving through a city in ancient times. 

AUDI design miami
the automated vehicle has been conceived as an integrated technology platform
image © designboom



(continued) so you combine entertainment and education at the same time. we’ll see totally new entertainment formats that are non linear, that play with the context where you are in and the dynamics of driving. I think that will create brand new formats of the future, and that’s what I want to experience. if I were to have an extra hour, I would like to consume this new entertainment format.

the large, five-door coupé is all controlled automatically
image © designboom

the AUDI installation envisions the personal potential of autonomous driving 
image courtesy of james harris / design miami

nils wollny, head of digital business strategy & customer experience at AUDI AG
image © designboom



AUDI at design miami 2016
video courtesy of AUDI germany



    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    design news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    503,283 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine