BMW’s motorcycle concept is so smart you won’t need a helmet to ride it
Motorcycles aren’t exactly safe, but BMW envisions a future where two-wheel vehicles have enough onboard intelligence to make it possible for drivers to use them without protective clothing. The emphasis here is still on the thrill of the drive, but intelligent driver assistance features will help make it possible for the ride to maintain its thrill while adding a lot more safety.
The so-called Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 vehicle is one in a series of BMW concepts that aim to anticipate where its future vision is going, and how incorporating new technologies and connectivity features will change the driving experience.
With the Motorrad, the answer is less a path to full autonomy, as you might expect with four-wheeled cars, and instead represents a natural conclusion based on the aspects of motorcycle riding that people value. That means the end-user experience is more about the freedom of the open road, with issues like safety handled by on-board artificial intelligence systems.
The appeal of a motorbike you can ride without having to heap on layers of protective gear, including a huge cumbersome helmet, is indeed an amazing proposition. BMW says the Motorrad’s systems will anticipate the road ahead and offer drivers guidance on what to do to avoid incidents, and even step in and take over to prevent anything from happening if necessary. It also uses a self-balancing system that absolutely prevents the possibility of a tip-over, either when in motion or when standing still.
There is some headgear involved, even though the helmet is gone in the concept – it’s a lightweight visor, however, and it’s made to keep the wind out of your eyes but also to overlay important information on your view, including anticipated twists and turns. Powering everything is a zero-emission electric drive train.
Again, this is a concept so it’s far from being a real thing, but it is a very cool vision of what might be next for the motorcycle industry in a future where autonomy is king for cars.
Luxury car-maker BMW has unveiled a concept motorcycle for the future connected world that automatically maintains upright position and foresees problems on the road.
“The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 embodies the BMW Group’s vision of biking in a connected world – an analogue experience in a digital age,” said Edgar Heinrich, head of design at BMW Motorrad.
The zero-emission motorcycle features a sleek flexible frame without moving parts. The BMW designers said they wanted to pay homage to historical BMW vehicles including its first ever motorcycle – the R32 made in 1923 – but also to look into the future. The frame therefore has a shape of a black triangle but with no bearings and joints.
The solution, BMW said, enhances ergonomics and protects the rider from wind and weather.
As the frame features no joints turning the handlebars adjusts the entire frame.
The bike’s active assistance system balances the motorcycle whether it’s moving or stationary and prevents it from falling.
This technology, together with the vehicle’s constant access to data, which the designers envision will be a key feature of all transport solutions a few decades from now, provides unprecedented levels of safety, which allows the rider to ditch a helmet and protective gear.
“The bike has the full range of connected data from its surroundings and a set of intelligent systems working in the background, so it knows exactly what lies ahead,” explained Holger Hampf, head of user experience at the BMW Group.
“By collating the data it has gathered, it can suggest ideal lines and banking angles, or warn riders of hazards ahead.”
The rider has access to the information via an intelligent visor covering the entire field of vision. The rider can control what information will be displayed simply by his or her eye movements. Information is only projected onto the visor on request, or to alert the rider to the fact that action is needed.
“Normally, when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think 5 to 10 years in advance,” said Heinrich. “On this occasion, we looked much further ahead and found the experience especially exciting.”
It is surprising, though, that this futuristic vehicle, designed for the digitalised completely interconnected world, is not driverless. BMW believes that riding a motorcycle will remain a unique experience, having a specific driving appeal, so doesn’t see the technology’s future going the autonomous way.
BMW also designed some fashionable gear for the driver. Its only safety feature is an inflatable neck support that improves comfort. The gear constantly measures the wearer’s pulse and body temperature and adjusts the level of heating or cooling for maximum comfort. The suit also delivers navigation instructions via vibrating elements in the arms and legs, and alerts the rider when the banking angle is becoming critical.BMW’s 100-year vision: a smart motorcycle that won’t tip or crash
Looking ahead to its second century, BMW this week completed the vision for its four groups: BMW, BMW Motorrad (motorcycles), Mini, and Rolls-Royce. Tuesday in Santa Monica, CA, it was BMW Motorrad’s turn, and it showed a conceptual bike called the Vision Next 100 that keeps itself upright while driving or standing.
While the BMW concept motorcycle of the future isn’t self driving, it comes close. It helps the rider stay upright and constantly adjusts to road conditions. It’s so safe, BMW says, the rider doesn’t need a helmet or protective clothing.Turn the wheel, the entire frame flexes left or right
When the driver turns the handlebar, the frame itself flexes and changes shape, allowing the bike to go left or right. It takes more effort to turn the bike at higher speeds, improving stability. With the Flexframe (BMW’s term), there is also no suspension — no springs, no shock absorbers, no swingarm. Instead, the two wheels absorb the bumps. (BMW’s future vision apparently envisions the end to potholes.)
A technology suite of stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes mean the bike should stay up at all times. It won’t, BMW believes, ever fall over. That makes this an ideal bike for beginning riders and adds a measure of safety for long-term riders.
The powerplant has the look of BMW’s classic opposed-cylinder design, but it will be some non-polluting, zero-emissions technology.
BMW’s Digital Companion for the rider
The bike won’t tip over. It won’t crash. So there’s no need for a helmet or protective leathers (in theory). The rider will wear special gear, a sleek body suit (so long as the rider inside is sleek), and a data-display visor. BMW calls it the Digital Companion. Different data appears when the driver looks and looks down; information shuts off completely when the driver looks straight ahead.
What can the Digital Companion do? Suggest ideal lines and banking angles going through a turn, or advise of road hazards ahead. If the rider doesn’t position the bike properly, the display suggests a better angle, and if the rider fails to respond, the bike corrects itself.
Looking upward brings a rear view camera into play. The bike has no instrument panel to speak of other than a red throttle grip on the right.
Smart suit warms, cools, informs
The rider’s gear warms or cools the rider. The flexible, banded suit provides support for the body for long or grueling rides. Navigation instructions are transmitted as vibrations to the left or right arm, plus on the smart visor.
According to BMW, “The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 stands for the ultimate riding experience. Liberated from the need to wear a helmet and protective clothing, the rider is able to enjoy the forces. Acceleration, wind, and nature as in touch with the surrounding world, savoring every moment. The design of the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 represents the essence of the motorcycle: the perfect synthesis between human and machine. Every detail is of the highest quality and the design incorporates all the most striking visual aspects of BMW Motorrad bikes across the ages.”
You Won’t Need a Helmet
On Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif., BMW Group debuted a motorcycle concept so artificially intelligent that it eliminates the need for the rider to wear protective gear, including a helmet.
The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 motorcycle is the latest incarnation of BMW’s Vision Next series, which celebrates 100 years of the German brand with forward-looking concept vehicles from Rolls-Royce, Mini, and BMW. The group has been hosting events around the world this year to debut each new concept in a different city. California’s event, held in an old airplane hangar, displayed the motorcycle along each of the group’s other previously shown concepts. This is the fourth and final of its concepts to be shown. When the bike is resting, the unit that powers it stays small; when the bike moves forward, the unit lengthens to enhance aerodynamics and protect the rider while at speed.So what does the future of motorcycles hold?
At least according to BMW, it’s a bike that has self-balancing systems to keep it upright both when standing (a boon for novice riders, on par with training wheels for bicycles) and in motion (beneficial for experienced riders who want erudite handling at high speed). Several systems—one BMW calls a “Digital Companion,” which offers riding advice and adjustment ideas to optimize the experience, and one called “The Visor,” which is a pair of glasses that span the entire field of vision and are controlled by eye movements—correlate to return active feedback about road conditions to the rider while adjusting the ride of the bike continuously depending on the rider’s driving style. (Sure beats today’s motorcycle touchscreen technology.)
On the frame above the front wheel is a large metal reflector and the daytime running light; the unit acts as a wind deflector, BMW says.
It’s meant to equal the driverless systems automakers also expect to be producing in cars by 2040 and beyond.“The bike has the full range of connected data from its surroundings and a set of intelligent systems working in the background, so it knows exactly what lies ahead,” said Holger Hampf, BMW’s head of user experience.
BMW says a visor that each rider will wear will help control and direct the bike. The commands from the visor are controlled by moving your eyes.
It also purports to use a novel matte black “flexframe” that’s nimble enough to allow the bike to turn without the joints found on today’s motorcycles. The idea is that when a rider turns the handlebar, it adjusts the entire frame to change the direction of the bike; at low speeds only a slight input is required, while at high speeds it needs strong input to change course. This should increase the safety factor of riding a bike so a small twitch at 100 mph isn’t going to shoot you in an unexpected new direction.
The bike is meant to be suited for both beginning and experienced riders. (BMW has also made a jacket with diagonal front zipper and ventilation elements to accompany the new motorcycle.)
But not everything about this concept bike is forward-looking: The black triangle shape of the frame combined with the white trim lines and classic boxer engine form are meant to evoke the 1923 R32, the first motorcycle BMW ever made. The seat, upper frame cover, and wings are made of carbon, and the bike will run on a futuristic “non-gasoline power source.” (Naturally; this is a concept, after all.)
Another uber-modern touch: The area at the front will have virtually no buttons except a red rocker switch on the end of the right handlebar.
Like most concepts, BMW has declined to specify when, if ever, this bike will be produced. But the technology seen here may eventually trickle down to future models in the next few decades of Motorrad.
The BMW concept motorcycle seems extremely far-fetched, and the group has released only rail-thin details about what to expect in terms of bringing it to production, if it ever does. But like all its Vision Next concepts, BMW execs said that they intended it that way. After all, they wouldn’t want to tip off competitors.
“Normally when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think five to 10 years in advance,” Edgar Heinrich, head of design at BMW Motorrad, said in a press statement. “On this occasion, we looked much further ahead and found … some very attractive prospects.”
The bike is minimal to look at except for a fat rear tire and, beneath the carbon seat, two fine, red, illuminated strips that form the rear light and indicators.