The ‘Vision Next 100’ concept car has been unveiled at a ceremony in Munich to celebrate BMW’s centenary. It marks the first of four major concepts that the German car and motorcycle manufacturer will show this year. This shape-shifting autonomous car with artificial intelligence is an attempt by the manufacturer to predict what cars will look like in the not-too-distant future when driverless vehicles are commonplace and artificial intelligence can learn and then predict a passenger’s behaviour.
The concept vehicle features 800 moving triangles, which are set into the instrument panel and fitted to the side panels on the outside. The shape-shifting triangles – a feature BMW is calling Alive Geometry – would move to allow the car to communicate with the rider. For example, they could open up to reveal red undersides when hazards present themselves on the road. This shape-shifting architecture blends in with BMW’s goal of making the Vision Next 100 a showcase for potential interactive technologies. A major example of this is the concept’s ability to switch between full autonomous mode, called “Ease,” and a more driver-centered mode called “Boost.” In Boost, the Vision Next 100 configures itself around the driver as they take control of the vehicle. This isn’t just tweaking some settings. Instead, the steering wheel and seat shifts and the vehicle itself morphs to indicate the ideal driving line, steering point and speed, and the center console angles itself toward the driver. In addition, the driver can interact with the car by means of gesture control. In Ease, the concept car alters itself for full autonomous mode. The sees the steering wheel and center console retract, the headrests turn sideways, and the seats and door trim merge into each other. This allows the driver and passengers to face one another and relax as the car takes over the task of handling the commute or long road trips. In addition, the head-up display switches to personalized content and entertainment, and augmented displays highlight the passing scenery.
The Vision Next 100 is scheduled to go on a world tour with appearances in the United States, Britain, and China before stopping at the BMW Festival in Munich in September.