German design student Tilmann Schlootz has been named one of the winners in the 2008 Michelin Challenge Design competition for his Audi Snook project. Selected for special exhibition at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit by a jury of professional designers and educators, the Snook scale model concept answered a design brief entitled: 'Sharing the Road - Big Safety/Small Vehicles', which called for enhanced real and perceived safety for smaller vehicles through design innovation.
The visionary concept vehicle, which rides on a mono-sphere wheel, is heralded as a new vehicle category, implementing the principles of agility through instability learned from aerospace technology. Providing single or double occupancy, the vehicle looks like a helmet pivoting atop a small sphere, but at the core of the sphere wheel is a multidirectional engine, which features drive-by-wire-technology enabling the driver to navigate and steer the auto-stabilizing cabin in every direction. It is able to maneuver sideways as well as forwards and backwards and can turn on a point.
Besides being a completely new driving experience, the concept enables a variety of new maneuvers to be completed, both for enhanced and pleasurable mobility as well as for security in the demanding urban environments of the future.
This is the second time Schlootz, a graduate of the Academy of Art and Design Offenbach, has won an award for the Snook, the last having been garnered at the VDA Design Awards held at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show.
Supervised by Prof. Dieter Mankau, leader of the Institute of Technology-Oriented Design Innovation (ITD), Schlootz initiated the technological research project with Wolfgang Mueller-Pietralla, head of Volkswagen Group Research and Future Affairs. It was created in response to the questions posed by his diploma thesis "Future Research and Product Design", which dealt with methodical similarities and potential synergies of the two branches.