For the next 100 years, BMW is expecting drivers of its vehicles to still enjoy being behind the wheel. This expectation is reflected in the BMW Vision Next 100 concept vehicle, which would focus around the driver by providing constant connectivity, cutting-edge technologies and digital intelligence.
Moreover, BMW Vision Next 100 should be able to transform a typical driver into the Ultimate Driver, who would surely enjoy the even-increasing intensity of Sheer Driving Pleasure typical of BMW vehicles. Since the focus of the BMW Vision Next 100 concept vehicle is on the driver, it was only logical to have the interior as the starting point of its design. This is primarily because BMW expects the well-being of drivers to become increasingly important.
Instead of feeling that they’re sitting in a vehicle that just drives by itself, drivers should be made to experience that they are in a well-thought-out car that is designed to cater to their requirements. Thus, BMW designed the Vision Next 100 to feature a domed interior that makes the cabin as roomy as possibly. Despite that, the concept vehicle still retains the typical exterior lines of a BMW and the athletic silhouette of a BMW saloon.
Interestingly, the Vision Next 100 is fitted with the Companion sensory and digital intelligence, which allows the vehicle to increasingly and progressively learn more about the driver, offering the ideal support needed to transform the driver into the Ultimate Driver. Since the system learns progressively about the driver, it improves as it focuses on creating the most intense and most personal driving experience.
The Companion is indicated by a small sculptural element -- shaped like a large, cut gemstone -- that represents the driver-vehicle connection. Companion is positioned in the center of the dashboard just beneath the windscreen, signifying the intelligence and connectivity of the BMW Vision Next 100.
Moreover, the Companion signifies the constant exchange of data in which the more the system learns about the driver and their driving habits, the smarter it becomes. When the Companion got to know the driver thoroughly, it could automatically perform routine tasks as well as offer suitable advice.
Furthermore, the Companion plays a vital function in driver-vehicle communications when the Vision Next 100 is transitioning from one mode to another. In Boost mode, the Companion remains flat in the dashboard. In Ease mode, the Companion rises up to create an interface with the windscreen.
Then a signal light will appear to indicate that the Vision Next 100 is ready for fully autonomous driving. Moreover, the Companion would signal with its own light as well as with the vehicle’s light to tell other road users that the Vision Next 100 is in automated mode. Interestingly, in certain traffic situations, the Companion would maintain visual contact with other road users and even help pedestrians cross the road by flashing a green light gradient on the front of the car.
Also the Vision Next 100 features Alive Geometry which consists of a 3D sculpture working both inside and outside to allow interaction between the driver and the vehicle. It is made up of nearly 800 moving triangles set into the instrument panel and into specific areas of the side panels.
Working in three dimensions, these triangles communicate directly with the driver through their movements that function like gestures. Alive Geometry works with the Head-Up display to combine the analog with the digital. More importantly, the driver could perceive even the slightest peripheral movement of the triangles, which works just like a flock of birds in controlled flight.
Their coordinated movements serve as signals that a driver could easily understand, thereby providing a form of preconscious communication that allows an intuitive signal to predict an imminent event. Presently, it is still difficult to see how these tiny triangles could be coordinated to make Alive Geometry work, although BMW is already acting on various approaches to confirm its feasibility.
BMW, however, believes that it would be possible to bring this solution to life, considering that current vehicle manufacturing methods are bound to be replaced by more innovative ones, thereby making it feasible in the future to produce more complex and flexible forms. This is the main reason why BMW -- in the context of the Vision Next 100 -- refers to 4D printing that adds a fourth level – the functional dimension – to components. BMW expects parts manufactured using 4D printing to integrate functions that at present need to be designed and produced separately before being assembled to become one big component. Moreover, BMW expects digital and physical worlds to merge considerably in the future.
This expectation is also conveyed through Alive Geometry, by having the analog dashboard interact with the digital Head-Up Display in the front windscreen. Alive Geometry is also relevant when the driver selects any of the available modes, particularly when transitioning between the Ease and Boost modes. In Ease mode, Alive Geometry is somewhat restrained in its movements, providing only certain important information like details about the road ahead as well as any acceleration and braking maneuver that the vehicle will undertake. In Boost mode, Alive Geometry helps by highlighting the ideal driving line or the possible turning point. It also warns of oncoming vehicles.
Thus, Alive Geometry allows drivers to drive much better, instead of faster. Moreover, intuitive feedback is considered to provide more physical and immediate impact than instructions on a screen or a robotic voice. Nonetheless, the BMW Vision Vehicle features an exterior that fuses the dynamic refinement of a sedan and the sportiness of a coupé.
While it features compact exterior dimensions – with length of 4.90 meters and height of 1.37 meters – the vehicle boasts of interior dimensions of a luxury BMW sedan. It features large wheels positioned at the outer edges of the body, resulting a more dynamic stance typical of BMW vehicles.
Amusingly, the exterior Alive Geometry helps improve the BMW Vision Next 100 to become more aerodynamic, allowing the futuristic vehicle to achieve an extremely low drag coefficient of 0.18. For instance, when the wheels swivel during a steering maneuver, the exterior Alive Geometry keeps them covered like a flexible skin.
Remarkably, the exterior of the BMW Vision Next 100 is wrapped in copper color, which should emphasize the concept that future BMW vehicles should have a technical appearance made elegant by the warmth emanating from the close relationship between the vehicle and the driver. Of course, this close relationship commences – not when the driver gets into the car – but as soon as the driver nears the Vision Next 100. When intelligent sensor technologies detect that the driver is approaching, the Vision Next 100 would automatically open its wing doors. Then the vehicle would flush the steering wheel with the dashboard to provide the driver more room to enter and exit.
Once the driver gets comfortable on the seat, he or she could activate the full range of systems just by tapping on the BMW logo in the middle of the dashboard. Once the logo is tapped, the door closes and the steering wheel comes forward. As futuristic as it is intended to be, the interior of the BMW Vision Next 100 currently used fabrics made from recycled or renewable materials. Moreover, its visible and non-visible carbon parts -- like the side panels -- are made from residues from conventional carbon fiber production.
Of course, as time passes, new materials will be discovered and will be used accordingly throughout the design and production process. This would also allow different vehicle shapes to appear in the future. Fascinatingly, for the sake of supporting sustainable manufacturing and to save resources, the BMW Vision Next 100 will gradually use less of wood and leather while progressively increasing the use of new and innovative materials. In fact, the interior of the BMW Vision Next 100 already features the use of such materials as high-quality textiles and easily recyclable mono-materials. Moreover, the interior of the BMW Vision Next 100 does not use any leather.