Audi lets you build your own racetrack in a sandbox, drive the new Audi Q5 in VR on the scanned track


Audi Norway have come up with a new way to attract customers by combining physical installation with virtual reality. The experience lets Audi customers to test-drive the new Audi Q5 on their own self-made track, designed in a special, real life sandbox.
The project intends to wake your inner child by offering the chance to build a track in a sandpit. When the track is formed, the sand is scanned by a depth-sensing camera, from which a virtual world is rendered. Having built the track, drivers then buckle up in a VR sim rig in order to drive the Audi Q5 in the world they just created. The size of the jumps and the challenge of the course are all dictated by the sandy self-made chicanes.

“For many of us, playing with cars in the sandpit is a distant memory. Let’s face it, the opportunity rarely presents itself once you pass a certain age,” says Tommy Jensen Marketing Manager of Audi Norway. “The Sandbox 2.0 is a state-of-the-art toy for kids and adults. It provides a platform to rekindle the joys of driving and demonstrate the assets of the Q5 and the quattro technology in a playful and accessible way. For the Audi brand, this is a new way to demonstrate our products.”

To be able to capture every bump and curve, and create a 3D model of those, the sand is scanned with short bursts of infrared light with over 200,000 measure points captured by the infrared camera. Once in the car, the driver experiences all the tangibility of a real-life drive, from feedback in the steering wheel, to the actual sounds of an Audi Q5.

“When you put on the headset you don’t just see the inside of a Audi Q5. This virtual world has real depth. You can look around and explore behind stuff. It’s really exciting to watch as people experience this for the first time,” says Tom Eriksen, Creative Director at MediaMonks. “To create a VR experience that is totally believable, it’s important that the driving environment also feels real. Not only the visual part but also the feel of the steering wheel and its feedback when you hit the sand.”

“Another factor in the immersion of VR, is audio. So we’ve used the engine sound from a real Audi Q5. Then our sound software renders a realistic and dynamic three-dimensional sound experience,” adds Johan Ansterus, VR Producer at MediaMonks.

While the idea behind the sandbox installation originates in Norway, it can be available to other countries and markets following the launch phase. Hopefully we’ll see this technology travelling the World.

Project page: audi.no/