The Vision 100 Concept aims at exploring what BMW cars could be in a not-to-distant future. In order to maintain an emotional connection between the machine and its driver in a world where self-driving cars are expected to be the norm, the Vision 100 Concept offers two distinct operating modes: a fully-automated driving system with the opportunity to relax, work or be entertained (Ease Mode); and a completely different experience fully focused on driving pleasure and customized to the driver’s preferences, called Boost Mode.
The starting point and main focus of the design is the interior, a common theme of most self-driving vehicles.
The vehicle body style is a mix between a one-box design, a four door coupé and a hatchback, with minimal overhangs and a particularly spacious cabin enclosed by all-glass surfaces.
The surface treatment includes some cues from the BMW i sub-brand, as well as futuristic elements such as the wheel-covers.
The exterior is visually characterized by the triangular pattern theme of the Alive Geometry (see below), which is boldly present on the front and rear fenders as well as on the front grille.
The futuristic interior, accessed through four butterfly doors, features sleek, individual seats and very clean surfaces without any visible button or switch.
The seats and the large V-shaped dashboard are characterized echo the triangular pattern of the exterior, and the IP incorporates a retractable cloche-shaped steering wheel.
The show car made its debut at the Centenary Event in the Munich Olympic Hall on 7 March 2016.
Alive Geometry and 4D printing
One of the most distintive feature of the BMW Vision Next 100 concept car is the so-called alive geometry: the term indicates a series of active elements, both inside and outside the car, that enhances the driver-vehicle interaction while giving form to a kind of three-dimensional sculpture.
Alive Geometry consists of almost 800 moving triangles which are set into the instrument panel and into certain areas of the side panels.
This solution is similar – on a very different scale – to those adopted on many modern buildings, where exterior panels are automatically changed in configuration and geometry in order to adapt to the lighting conditions, and maximize energy efficiency.
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.”
While BMW admits the technology of today is not yet capable of turing this feature into a production reality, it also envisions a different set of manufacturing processes, including additive manufacturing technologies referred to as 4D printing, that could easily enable it in the future.
“In the future it will become feasible to produce far more complex and flexible forms. […] BMW 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.”
In the self-driving, Ease mode, the steering wheel and centre console retract; the headrests turn to the side, and the seats and door trim merge to form a single unit so that the driver and front-seat passenger can turn towards each other.
In Boost, the entire vehicle focuses on the driver, offering the support needed to maximize the driving experience – for instance by indicating the ideal driving line, steering point and speed.
Regarding the UI, the BMW Vision Next 100 goes beyond the futuristic organic LEDs, suggesting that at some point there will be no displays at all, with the windscreen serving as a huge, interactive display.
The onboard driving system is capable of learning from the driver’s habits, thanks to its sensory and digital intelligence, a feature called the Companion.