BMW capped its centenary celebrations in Santa Monica, Calif. on Tuesday with the reveal of its intelligent motorcycle of the future, a machine so smart that it eliminates the need for protective gear.
The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 concept is what motorcycles could look and act like in 2040. The concept keeps its eyes on the road, using a host of connected systems to anticipate obstacles, and alerts the rider to potentially critical situations. Its self-balancing system means it will never tip over, a reprieve for seasoned riders and a boon for novices.
The concept can “act with foresight and is able to protect the rider at any time,” said Edgar Heinrich, head of design for BMW Motorrad. “Hence the rider’s gear will no longer focus on protection.”
Much of the information from the bike’s “digital companion” is transmitted through data glasses that span the rider’s field of vision. It can suggest ideal lines and banking angles via a display similar to an airplane cockpit’s. The rider customizes the display through eye movements. Looking ahead shuts off the information pipe completely.
The German automaker, which got its start in 1916, spent the past seven months touring its far-out concept cars from each of its four brands – BMW, Rolls-Royce, MINI, and its motorcycle marque BMW Motorrad – across Europe and the United States. On Monday, BMW Motorrad also unveiled the BMKW K 1600 B, an American-style cruiser that it hopes will help double the brand’s market share in the Americas by 2020, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Like all automakers, BMW is trying to anticipate how people will travel in the future and how demographic trends and personal preferences will affect mobility. The first concept to be revealed, the BMW Vision Next 100, debuted in the company’s Munich hometown in March. That car, which executives said could be reality within 30 years, is a split-personality vehicle that comes in two modes. In “boost” mode, the car is designed to help the driver reach peak performance by communicating next-level safety and route information. The “ease” setting retracts the steering wheel and lets the car drive itself “if the driver decides he or she does not want to drive this particular stretch of road,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design.
Revealed in London in June, the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 concept from BMW Group’s ultra upscale marque is a five-foot tall, bespoke behemoth measuring nearly 20 feet in length. The model is a fully autonomous, zero-emission two-seater that comes with a full-size couch and a virtual assistant named Eleanor in lieu of a chauffeur.
Meanwhile, MINI’s concept is a self-driving car designed to navigate cities, transporting its passengers and keeping itself occupied in the meantime. While in use, the omniscient, zero-emission vehicle can customize its colors, graphics, and content to suit the driver.