BMW and John Deere develops futuristic backhoe concept

Article by Christian A., on March 20, 2017

BMW’s Designworks division collaborates with John Deere to create “the backhoe of the future”. The concept was showcased at the recently held CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas. The German car manufacturer as we know continues to work on new innovations which also involves drastic new changes.

With the use of advanced technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, the backhoe concept has been developed with sustainable building materials including lightweight metal matrix exoskeleton.

Perhaps to suit the ever-changing needs in the industry, the backhoe of the future nevertheless comes with more lightweight and flexible design. Part of their objective is to cut down on the vehicle’s weight by 20%. This will make their concept significantly lighter as compared with the normal equipment we see around today.

With the use of exoskeleton for example, the company was also able to help reduce the procedure’s environmental side effects by at least 10%. Plus, it does look like it is more cost effective to build and even comes with a flexible product design. Let’s say every region comes with varying environmental conditions, that means, a different backhoe is also necessary to meet their different specifications and requirements.

During its research and design procedure, BMW creates a name for the concept. Since it’s been trying to create some kind of a focal point for their project, they come up with Fixtern (or Fixed Star) for its name. This will allow the company to focus on its objective towards the future of mobility.

As a result, BMW and John Deere’s backhoe concept features an optimum efficient hybrid powertrain with uncompromised performance. The concept’s visibility and center of gravity are also enhanced in the process to offer better work output. Other than these, the unique backhoe comes with airless tires, extended wheelbase and forward stabilizers.

Inside the backhoe comes an easy to access operating station while the seat and controllers are set apart from the vehicle’s Rollover Protective Structure. This will help lessen the vibration and noise coming from outside. The machine intelligent controls meanwhile come with augmented reality interface to make operations more simple and easier to use.

At the end, BMW was able to share their knowledge as well as inspire change and transformation through Designworks’ latest project. The German automaker strongly believes that it is very important particularly when it comes to sustainable solutions--- regardless if it had to do with connectivity or product design as long as it will work towards the future.

Press Release

BMW Group subsidiary Designworks collaborates with John Deere on the Backhoe of the Future

As a design consultancy and BMW Group subsidiary, Designworks is deeply involved in shaping the future of mobility and the way we experience it. After presenting a vision of an automotive interior predominantly designed for a fully automated driving experience together with BMW at CES 2017, Designworks helped introduce another pioneering look into the future of mobility in Las Vegas: A backhoe vision of the future, developed in collaboration with John Deere, is being presented for the first time at CONEXPO-CON/AGG from 7. - 11. March. The concept leverages emerging materials and technology innovations to dramatically reconfigure the traditional backhoe form and is the result of a unique research and design process called “Fixstern”. To showcase the Fixstern Backhoe vision at the largest construction equipment trade show in the Americas, Designworks was also tasked by John Deere with the development of a unique augmented and virtual reality experience.

FIXSTERN: A Pioneering approach to innovation.

Designworks applied BMWs holistic and innovative research and design process “Fixstern” (fixed star) to the backhoe project. The process creates a far-future vision, a focal point that all stakeholders can share in common, align to, and drive towards. “BMW is continuously working on innovations to headline the radical change in our future mobility. Through Designworks we are able to share knowledge and inspire change and transformation in other industries, which is important not only with regards to product design or connectivity but especially when it comes to sustainable solutions for the future”, says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design.

The demanding goals John Deere and Designworks established to highlight the key areas of advancement also illustrate the dualities the team had to overcome in the process: Designing a highly capable and robust future piece of equipment while reducing weight by a minimum of 20 percent and the equipment’s environmental impact by a minimum of 10 percent; elevating the user experience through user interaction and improved interior spaciousness while satisfying differing regional markets and addressing changing market demands through flexibility and versatility while lowering the cost to manufacture.

The John Deere Fixstern Backhoe.

The visionary backhoe concept incorporates an array of compelling features and innovations. A hybrid powertrain delivers the right amount of power, efficiency and light weighting without compromising productivity. It also enables a lower center of gravity and improves forward visibility. The form incorporates forward stabilizers, enabling an extended wheelbase with airless radial tires, which in-turn improves transport stability and expands the operator station.

To elevate the user experience, John Deere and Designworks expanded the operator station with larger openings and fewer obstructions to improve ingress/egress, visibility, and storage space. The isolation of seat and controls from a now-structural Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) greatly improves comfort and control while reducing vibration and noise. Electric four-wheel steer improves maneuverability in tight areas.

The Fixstern Backhoe concept also boasts increased machine intelligence and connectivity with integrated augmented interfaces that enhance operation and real-time training, allow for increased communication between operator and project supervisor for efficiency and control, and incorporate predictive maintenance for decreased downtime and improved fleet management. “We wanted to stretch and challenge ourselves to innovate in new ways”, said Doug Meyer, global director of product engineering, John Deere Construction & Forestry. “We worked closely with our backhoe customers to apply their input, and we leveraged jobsite visits and qualitative research to ensure the Fixstern solutions address future customer and industry needs in performance, efficiency, and environmental compliance.”

Innovation through Materials and Consumer Insights.

Designworks fosters the integration of material and sustainability knowhow right from the beginning of the design and development process: For the Fixstern Backhoe the studio applied its proprietary database of emerging materials, fabrication techniques and technologies which were developed to help enhance product quality, save costs and increase efficiency while meeting stricter environmental regulations. With its holistic approach to material data including eco indicators, material availability, material cost and manufacturing information it also inspires designers to break barriers otherwise unquantifiable in the conceptual stage. The backhoe itself would be manufactured with intelligent, emerging, lightweight materials which help to reduce dig component weight and translates directly into increased payloads. The lightweight metal matrixed exoskeleton as well as a suspended hybrid propulsion unit help achieve the light weighting goals set out in the initial project phase.

Topics: bmw, concept

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