The innovative BMW VISION NEXT 100 study suggests what a BMW of the future could look like, and answers some key questions: how do we maintain driving pleasure in the future, placing the focus on the person at the wheel and turning them into the Ultimate Driver? Here’s a summary of the major features of the BMW VISION NEXT 100.
- Michael Seitz
- BMW Group
The world will change, but driving pleasure will continue – more intensely than ever. In the BMW VISION NEXT 100, the focus in the future will continue to be on the driver: permanent connectivity, digital intelligence and state-of-the-art technology will merely play supporting roles. With their assistance, however, the person at the wheel will become the perfect driver. Even in years to come, BMW owners will mainly want to do the driving themselves, of course –but they’ll be able to decide at any time whether to drive or be driven.
The integration of new technologies makes the exciting formal language of the BMW VISION NEXT 100 even more sculptural and vibrant.
The driving experience: Boost or Ease
Enabling this choice are two separate drive modes. Whichever is selected, the relevant vehicle elements and technologies combine to create either maximum driving intensity (Boost mode) or a relaxing driving experience (Ease mode). The switch from one mode to the other is a spectacular experience in itself.
In Boost mode, the technological competence of the BMW VISION NEXT 100 is focused exclusively on tasks that are really relevant to the driver. For example, it will show the driver’s ideal line, turning point and optimum speeds via a contact-analog BMW Head-up Display covering the entire windshield. And thanks to full connectivity, intelligent sensors and permanent data exchange, the Head-up Display is able to generate a digital image of the vehicle’s surroundings. This provides the driver with vital information – even in fog – such as vehicles crossing the road before they appear in the field of vision. Here, driver support is considerably reduced, discreet and individual. The system automatically improves as it learns more about its driver, with a constant focus on creating a driving experience that is both highly personal and totally engaging. The aim is to turn the person behind the wheel into the Ultimate Driver.
The transition to Ease mode brings about a complete change of interior ambiance. The steering wheel and center console retract, and the headrests move to one side to create a comfortable, spacious environment. The seats and door panels combine to form a single unit, so driver and passengers can turn to sit facing one another at a slight angle - a relaxed position that makes for easier communication. The contact-analog Head-up Display can now provide passengers with personalized content; this may include information about buildings, for example, which is projected directly onto the structure. In Boost mode, visibility is tailored to what is essential to the driver, whereas in Ease mode, attention is drawn to the attractive landscape passing by.
Self-learning system: the Companion
Screens and displays define digital life in 2016: whether at home, in the car, on the street or at work, we are never far from a window into the digital world. But the future envisioned by BMW designers starts from a rather different premise.
Although digitization will no doubt continue, many objects will, in the future, communicate with each other on a continuous basis without any human input. In conjunction with self-learning systems, many processes will be automated to meet our needs. In the view of BMW designers, this simplification also relates to the way in which we communicate with – and, as required, control – the digital world. The path toward a more intuitive and direct form of communication involves more speaking. Gestures, too, will play a bigger role, which is why the BMW VISION NEXT 100 includes two areas for finger gestures: one on the steering wheel and one on the center console.
In the BMW VISION NEXT 100, the Companion symbolizes this new intelligent communication between human and car. Resembling a large polished gemstone centrally positioned on the instrument panel beneath the windshield, the Companion represents a subtle form of support and a simplification of communication with digital systems.
Revolutionary materials: Alive Geometry
A further example of simplified communication in the BMW VISION NEXT 100 is the sculpture of 800 movable triangles developed by the interface designers for the instrument panel. Moving at different speeds, the individual triangles rise up from the surface, revealing to a greater or lesser degree their red lateral surfaces. In a coordinated movement not unlike that of a flock of birds in controlled flight, the triangles create signals that are easily comprehensible to passengers. When this is combined with digital presentation through the contact-analog Head-up Display, what results is a form of preconscious communication: we receive an intuitive signal directly before a real-time event which, in the case of the BMW VISION NEXT 100, even children can grasp without difficulty. In Boost mode, when the driver is fully focused on the road, the system demonstrates the ideal line or the turn-in point, for example, or warns of oncoming vehicles. Alive Geometry is also applied outside, to the movable wheel covers: to ensure optimal aerodynamic behavior, the wheel arches remain enclosed even under steering, and stretch with the movement of the tires.
New technologies aid sculptural design: the exterior
Iconic BMW design elements – such as short overhangs, dynamic proportions and L-shaped taillights – needed to remain recognizable in the BMW VISION NEXT 100. For the designers, it was important to convey technological progress through a very natural, flowing and clear visual language. Because a BMW always embodies athleticism, very precise and focused graphic details were designed as a contrast to the clear lines. The body shape, smooth underbody and enclosed wheel arches, moreover, reduce aerodynamic drag to a sensationally low Cd value of 0.18.