BMW unveils foresight for the next century with futuristic Vision Next 100 Concept

Article by Andrew Christian, on March 9, 2016

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.

Interior Design

The interior of the Vision Next 100 features a design that allows different modes of operation – Boost and Ease. The Ease mode lets the vehicle takes over the wheel, thereby allowing drivers to sit back and relax while waiting to arrive at their destination. In this mode, the interior of the Vision Next 100 is transformed into a cabin with lots of space, comfortable atmosphere and congenial lighting.

Moreover, the steering wheel and the center console retract while the headrests move to one side for a more relaxed atmosphere. In this mode, the seats and door panels merge to form a single unit, thus allowing both the driver and passengers to sit at a slight angle. This setup makes it easier for the driver and the passengers to face each other while sitting in a more relaxed position. In this, the Head-Up Display could offer personalized content – such as displaying their desired information and entertainment.

When in the Boost mode, the vehicle allows the driver to have full control of operations, while benefiting from the subtle and intuitive support offered by the entire vehicle. This mode changes the position of the seat and steering wheel and moves the center console to make it more strongly oriented toward the driver.

Additionally, drivers could interact with the vehicle using gesture control. While it is expected in the near future that vehicles would employ organic LEDs that could freely change shape, the Vision Next 100 hints at the possibility of having no more displays, as the entire windscreen will function as a giant display just in front of the driver. Fascinatingly, the analog BMW Head-Up Display employs the entire windscreen to communicate with the driver.

In Ease mode, the HUD focuses on the surroundings and landscapes or buildings of interest that the car is passing, for instance. In Boost mode, the HUD focuses only on things that matter to the driver like the ideal line, turning point and speed. Thanks to full connectivity, permanent data exchange and intelligent sensors, this futuristic HUD could generate a digital image of the surroundings. This is primarily useful in situations in which the road and the surroundings cannot be seen, like when the area is enwrapped in thick fog. Amazingly, other users of the road know whether the Vision Next 100 is in Ease of Boost mode, as indicated by the color of the light emanating from the trademark kidney grille, L-shaped rear lights and double headlights.

Press Release

BMW Group THE NEXT 100 YEARS

In the future, BMW drivers will still want to spend most of the time they are in their car at the wheel. In the BMW Vision Next 100, the driver will remain firmly in the focus, with constant connectivity, digital intelligence and state-of-the-art technologies available for support. But that's not all: the BMW Vision Next 100 will turn the driver into the Ultimate Driver. So even though the world may well be changing, Sheer Driving Pleasure is here to stay - and will be more intense than ever before.

In designing the BMW Vision Next 100, the starting point was the interior. In the years ahead, the driver's wellbeing will become increasingly important, and rather than merely feeling they are in a machine that drives itself, they should sense that they are sitting in one that was specifically designed for them. This idea gave rise to an architecture in which the cab seems particularly spacious compared with the overall size of the vehicle while retaining the typical exterior lines of a BMW. Despite its domed interior, the BMW Vision Next 100 retains the instantly recognisable athletic silhouette of a BMW saloon.

The design of the interior permits various modes of operation: Boost mode, in which the driver is at the controls, and Ease mode, in which the driver can sit back and let the vehicle take over. In Ease, the vehicle becomes a place of retreat with plenty of space, agreeable lighting and a comfortable atmosphere. In Boost, the driver takes over and benefits from the subtle and intuitive support offered by the vehicle. All the time, the vehicle is learning more and more about the person at the wheel, thanks to its sensory and digital intelligence, which the BMW Group calls the Companion. The Companion progressively learns to offer the right kind of support to transform the driver into the Ultimate Driver.

A very important element of the Vision Vehicle is another innovation known as Alive Geometry, the likes of which have never before been seen in a car. It consists of a kind of three-dimensional sculpture that works both inside and outside the vehicle.

Alive Geometry enables driver-vehicle interaction

Alive Geometry consists of almost 800 moving triangles which are set into the instrument panel and into certain areas of the side panels. They work in three dimensions, communicating very directly with the driver through their movements, which are more like gestures than two-dimensional depictions on a display. Even the slightest peripheral movement is perceptible to the driver. In combination with the Head-Up display, Alive Geometry uniquely fuses the analogue with the digital.

The triangles work in much the same way as a flock of birds in controlled flight, their coordinated movements acting as signals that are easily comprehensible to those inside the car. Combined with the Head-Up display, they involve the driver in a form of preconscious communication, where an intuitive signal predicts an imminent real-time event.

Various approaches can already be seen today that appear to confirm the feasibility of this solution. Rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing, for example, are gaining importance all the time and are likely to be commonplace 30 years from now. Although at present it remains difficult to imagine how hundreds of tiny triangles could be coordinated to make Alive Geometry work, in the years ahead, it will be possible, as today's standard vehicle manufacturing methods are replaced. In the future it will become feasible to produce far more complex and flexible forms. This is why, in the context of the BMW Vision Next 100, the BMW Group refers to 4D printing, a process which adds a fourth level to components: the functional one. In the years ahead, printed parts manufactured in this way will directly integrate functions which today have to be designed and produced separately before being incorporated into the whole.

At the moment, the digital world is strongly linked to displays; the next step will be organic LEDs - in other words, displays that can freely change shape. However the Vision Vehicle suggests there will at some point be no more displays at all. Instead the entire windscreen will serve as a giant display, directly in front of the driver. In the future the digital and physical worlds will merge considerably, as is also expressed through Alive Geometry, for example, in the way the analogue dashboard interacts with the digital Head-Up Display in the front windscreen.

Boost and Ease driving modes for driver- or vehicle-controlled operations

In Boost and Ease mode alike, the elements and technologies of the vehicle make for the most intense or relaxed driving experience, depending on what is required. Transitioning between modes is impressive and perfectly orchestrated, and Alive Geometry remains relevant throughout. In Boost, when the driver is concentrating fully on the road, Alive Geometry highlights the ideal driving line or possible turning point and warns of oncoming vehicles. Rather than making the driver drive faster, this kind of support sets out to make them drive noticeably better. In addition, intuitive feedback has a more physical and immediate impact than a robotic voice or instructions on a screen. In Ease mode, on the other hand, Alive Geometry is more discreet in its movements, informing occupants about the road ahead and any acceleration and braking manoeuvres that are about to happen.

In Boost mode, the entire vehicle focuses on the driver, offering intelligent support to maximise the driving experience. The seat and steering wheel change position, and the centre console moves to become more strongly oriented toward the driver. As the journey proceeds, the driver can interact with the vehicle via gesture control.

The contact analogue BMW Head-Up Display of the future uses the entire windscreen to communicate with the driver. In Boost mode, it focuses exclusively on what really matters to the driver: information such as the ideal line, turning point and speed. In addition, full connectivity, intelligent sensors and permanent data exchange allow the Head-Up Display to generate a digital image of the vehicle's surroundings. In foggy conditions, for example, this means the driver can benefit from information such as vehicles crossing ahead, before they actually come into sight. In addition, by learning more and more about the driver, the system continuously improves, concentrating on creating at all times the most intense and personal driving experience possible.

The transition to Ease mode brings about a complete change of interior ambience. The steering wheel and centre console retract and the headrests move to one side to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. The seats and door panels merge to form a single unit, allowing the driver and passengers to sit at a slight angle. This makes it easier for them to face each other and sit in a more relaxed position for easier communications. Meanwhile, the Head-Up Display offers occupants personalised content along with the information and entertainment they desire.

Depending on the driving mode, the focus of the vehicle changes, concentrating on essentials for the driver in Boost mode, and the surroundings and atmosphere in Ease mode, highlighting the impressive landscapes or buildings of interest that the car is passing by, for instance.

Whether the vehicle is in Boost or Ease mode is also clearly apparent to other road users as the trademark kidney grille, double headlights and L-shaped rear lights act as communication tool. Their different colours of light indicate which mode the vehicle is currently in.

Companion: The intelligent digital partner connects driver and car

The Companion is symbolised by a small sculptural element which represents the driver-vehicle connection. Shaped like a large, cut gemstone, it is positioned in the centre of the dashboard, just beneath the windscreen, where it symbolises the intelligence, connectivity and availability of the BMW Vision Next 100. It also represents the constant exchange of data: the more it learns about the owner and their mobility habits, the smarter it becomes. At some stage it knows the driver well enough to automatically perform routine tasks for them and offer suitable advice when needed. Irrespective of the vehicle itself, constant learning makes the Companion increasingly valuable to its owner.

The Companion also plays an important role in driver-vehicle communications when the car transitions from Boost to Ease mode. While the driver concentrates on the road in Boost mode, the Companion remains flat in the dashboard. But when the BMW Vision Next 100 takes control in Ease, it rises up to create an interface with the windscreen. A signal light tells the driver that the car is ready for fully autonomous driving. For other road users, the Companion has a similar function, signalling through its own light as well as that of the vehicle that the car is operating in automated mode. In certain traffic situations, the Companion is in visual contact with other road users, helping pedestrians to cross the road by means of the green light gradient on the front of the vehicle.

Trademark BMW exterior

The design of the BMW Vision Vehicle is characterised by a blend of coupé-type sportiness and the dynamic elegance of a sedan. At 4.90 meters long and 1.37 meters high, it has compact exterior dimensions. Inside, however, it has the dimensions of a luxury BMW sedan.

The large wheels are positioned at the outer edges of the body, giving the vehicle the dynamic stance that is a trademark of BMW. When it comes to aerodynamics, exterior Alive Geometry contributes to an outstanding effect: when the wheels swivel as the vehicle is steered, the bodywork keeps them covered as if it were a flexible skin, accommodating their various positions. The innovative design of the BMW Vision Next 100 gives it an extremely low drag coefficient of 0.18.

The exterior of the vehicle is copper in colour, designed to underscore the idea that BMW vehicles of the future should appear technical yet still have a warmth about them - as symbolised by the close links between the vehicle and its driver.

This relationship begins as soon as the driver approaches the vehicle: intelligent sensor technologies automatically open its wing doors. To give the driver more space to enter and exit, the steering wheel is flush with the dashboard. Once seated, the full range of systems is activated by tapping on the BMW logo in the middle of the dashboard. The door closes, the steering wheel comes forward, and the driving experience begins.

Materials of the future

The designers of the BMW Vision Next 100 primarily used fabrics made from recycled or renewable materials. The visible and non-visible carbon components, such as the side panels, are made from residues from normal carbon fibre production. In the future, the choice of materials will become even more important throughout the design and production process.

With time, other new materials will also be added into the mix, allowing different vehicle shapes to emerge. To save resources and support more sustainable manufacturing, less use will be made of wood and leather while innovative materials and the consequent new possibilities in design and production gradually come to the fore. This approach is already being exemplified by the use of high-quality textiles and easily recyclable mono-materials and the elimination of leather in the interior of the BMW Vision Next 100.

Topics: bmw, concept

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