A variety of interesting concepts are on their way to the Geneva Motor Show this year, but when it comes to offering something unique and different, Ed Design just may take the cake. The Italy-based company is known for fashioning concept vehicles for marques like Alfa Romeo, Ferrari,and Maserati, but this latest creation is something completely from out in left field.

Facts are scarce, to say the least, with the above teaser image and only a handful of details, but here is what we know so far: the Torq was designed to be a two-seat racer with an all-electric drivetrain and fully autonomous capabilities. It was created with the idea of eventually taking part in a one-make racing series for AI-controlled track battles. Oh, and it doesn’t have any windows.

And that’s pretty much it. Mike Robinson, who gained experience at Italian coachbuilder Gruppo Bertone, is the Design Director and CEO at ED Design, and the Torq is part of a project called MAAL, which is an acronym for Mobile Autonomous Automobile Laboratory.

But while that doesn’t tell us much, we can still make a few wild guesses, can’t we? All aboard the Speculation Special — next stop: Conjecture City.

Continue reading to learn more about the ED Design Torq concept.

Exterior

From the single teaser image, it looks like the Torq will be an angular, wedge-shaped supercar with minimal ground clearance, copious swoops and spoilers, and a long wheelbase. Italian publication quattroruote is reporting that total height will not exceed 43.3 inches, which could very well be correct, gauging from this shadowy picture.

No windows would mean less drag, which should go a long way to helping overall downforce efficiency. Seeing as this is a performance vehicle, materials used will probably focus on weight savings. That means a platform built on a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic monocoque, aluminum, and possibly a splash of magnesium and titanium for good measure. The doors will probably swing upwards in a dramatic, scissor-like fashion. Lighting might be provided by LEDs, and the whole thing will be doused in either bright, candy-colored paint, or raw, all-business carbon fiber.

One thing is for certain though: if it’s Italian and has ties to Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and Maserati, it’s gonna look fantastic.

Interior

The idea of riding around in a windowless, two-seater race car controlled by a computer sounds insanely scary. Personally, I’d want to be able to spot the braking points to prepare my neck for heavy deceleration, not to mention bear witness to the jukes and feints for position.

Therefore, I’m sure there has to be some way to see outside the car from within the cabin. This could be with a camera system that projects onto door- and dash-mounted screens, possibly with some kind of augmented reality coming into play. Perhaps passengers in rival vehicles would shoot virtual missiles at one another while the cars handled all the racing duties, sort of like a much more expensive Anki Overdrive.

Hopefully, there will be the option to take manual control, with a nice Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and some pedals arranged for quick and easy access. Racing harnesses are pretty much mandatory. And since there’s no mention of the Torq being a track-only vehicle, let’s throw in some decent infotainment to stave off boredom while cruising along in fully-autonomous mode, like a 10-speaker Bose audio system, 7-inch touchscreen, USB media interface, and a WiFi web connection.

Drivetrain

All-electric performance tells me that this car should use more than one electric motor for AWD propulsion. And with a name like “Torq,” you can bet output will be lofty as well. I’ll float some numbers out there that seem appropriate – how about 500 horsepower and 750 pound-feet of torque, with 0-to-60 in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 180 mph.

Why not? If you’re going to have fully autonomous race cars duking it out, you might as well make them fast as stink. There should be regenerative braking, adaptive suspension, active aerodynamics, and ultra-wide, super-sticky performance tires. All these things should be created from either carbon fiber or aluminum to save weight, and be controlled by the central processor for continuous instant adjustment, eking out every bit of performance possible, learning the minutiae of the track as it goes. And how about a few different driving modes to boot, with a cockpit-mounted dial to switch between “Grip,” “Drift,” and “Pit-Maneuver.” I guess you could have a “Comfort” setting too.

Prices

In the automotive industry, all-electric, fully-autonomous, and performance-oriented are not by-words for cheap. In the highly unlikely scenario that the Torq actually goes into production, I’m guessing a figure around half a million dollars.

Competition

Tecnicar Lavinia

2015 Tecnicar Lavinia Exterior
- image 572350
Tecnicar is looking into moving from building electric trains and scooters to build this 800-horsepower Lavinia. Unfortunately, it is still just a 3D rendering for now.

While currently only existing as a chunky-looking 3D computer model, Tecnicar hopes its Lavinia will one day become a reality for consumers looking to purchase an all-electric, six-figure supercar. Featuring a name taken from Roman mythology, the Lavinia was styled by Angelo Granata, the same individual who penned the 2014 Ferrari GTE Concept.

Tecnicar specializes in electric trains, mobility scooters, and tiny commuter EVs, which would make the Lavinia its first real attempt at creating something with any sort of sporting intent. However, the Italy-based company decided the best way to go about such a task was to simply dive in head-first, as the Lavinia will purportedly come with around 800 horsepower, a 0-to-60 time of 3.5 seconds, and a top speed of 186 mph. It’s ambitious, to say the least. Time will tell whether such ambition can make it in the real world.

Tesla Model S P85D

2015 Tesla Model S P85D High Resolution Exterior
- image 572255

In the world of performance all-electric vehicles, the P85D stands alone. This flagship EV turned all expectations for green technology on its head when it was announced that the car would come with two electric motors for an AWD drivetrain that could lay down an astounding 691 horsepower and 687 pound-feet of torque. That makes 60 mph happen from a standstill in 3.2 seconds, while the quarter mile flies by in 11.8 seconds. Top speed is 155 mph. What’s more, the P85D can get up to 275 miles per charge, making it both fast and surprisingly practical.

If also comes with some semi-autonomous features, using optical cameras and other sensors to give it automatic lane change, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automated braking. The interior is pleasantly appointed with luxurious materials, a large centrally mounted display screen, and unlike the Torq, windows.

It’s a nice package, but will cost you a pretty penny, with starting prices coming in at $120,170. There are slower models available for less, but where’s the fun in that?

Conclusion

With a full reveal forthcoming this March, we’ll have to wait and see exactly how the Torq will turn out. But given the details we have on hand, it certainly looks completely different from anything we’ve seen before. In all likelihood, it’s a car that will offer one vision of a future where gasoline is scarce and the computers control the wheel, but racing is far from forgotten.

But the idea of racing AI vs. AI is a bit troubling. No longer would this holiest of sports be about man and machine acting as one, but rather, it would be machine vs. machine. I’m not convinced that’s as exciting. Novel? Certainly. But adrenaline-inducing? Probably not. If every car is exactly the same, and the AI is calling the shots, I suppose newest software patch would determine which car wins the race. Also which will turn into Skynet.

But maybe there is a way to keep it interesting. With human life taken out of the equation, perhaps we’ll see some spectacular new tracks, with jumps, loops, and anvils falling from the sky. One can only hope.

  • Leave it
    • * Will cost more than you can afford
    • * No windows sounds terrifying
    • * AI vs. AI could turn out to be rather boring

Source: quattroruote

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