BMW's Vision Next 100 Concept Will Learn to Drive Just Like You
Talk about shape-shifting.
If you know anything about BMW, you know the little company that uses the state colors of Bavaria for its logo has reinvented itself multiple times over its 100-year history. (Exhibit A: Airplanes. Exhibit B: Motorcycles. Exhibit C: Isetta and MINI. I won't go on.)
So it's no surprise that BMW is pushing its latest creation as the incarnation of the future of mobility itself. This week in Munich it unveiled the BMW Vision Next 100 Concept, a gull-wing-door coupe gilded in gold paint and triangle crosshatching. It is flanked by wide, saucer-covered wheels and boasts a "windshield" that is actually an augmented reality display.
Executives at the launch said they built the car, which comes with self-driving and automatic-drive modes, because in the not-too-distant future the majority of cars "will probably be completely self-driving."
"Future mobility will connect every area of people’s lives," said Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG. "That’s where we see new opportunities for premium mobility."
He means that cars in the future will be totally connected to your phone, home computer-, tech and entertainment systems, and connected to each other—and that there should be a luxury ("premium") option for just such those type of cars. Of course.
Most of what we know about the Vision Next 100 Concept is 100 percent hypothetical. But dreaming is crucial in this business, and the car is a signal that BMW is doing all it can to stay ahead of everyone else when it comes to what the world will look like for personal transportation 10, 20, and 30 years from now. (A year ago, Mercedes introduced a self-driving concept vehicle called the F 015 that reenvisioned the car as a mobile living space, where riders would be chauffeured with many of the conveniences of a home or office.)
BMW's Vision Next 100 Concept comes with a "Boost" mode that enhances regular driving by doing such things as projecting optimal drive lines on the windshield. An "Ease" mode retracts the steering wheel, adjusts the seats, and clouds the windshield to use for entertainment. An intelligent "Companion" component studies the driving style and preferences of the primary driver of the car so that it can eventually perform some daily tasks and offer advice about how best to complete others. It will also be able to communicate with humans outside the car—for example, signaling pedestrians when it is safe to cross in front of the car while it is in self-driving mode.
In the meantime, the BMW Vision Next 100 will travel from Germany to be displayed in Beijing, London, and Los Angeles over the course of the year.