BMW’s motorbike of the future swaps helmet for AR glasses

BMW’s motorbike of the future swaps helmet for AR glasses
‘Batmobile bike or the latest ‘connected’ vehicle offering?’ - is the question you may be asking yourself after watching the above. Tasked with designing a motorcycle for the future (the 2040s to be precise), head of design at BMW Motorrad introduced a bike incorporating the intelligent eCall system and AR glasses.

Given free rein to design the motorbike of the future (in honour of BMW’s 100th anniversary), head of design at BMW Motorrad, Edgar Heinrich, introduced the idea for a sleek, black vehicle that takes one that looks fresh from a sci-fi movie.

The bike is self balancing for added safety thanks to gyroscopes that keep the bike upright (when either stopped or parked). Arguably the most interesting feature of the VISION NEXT 100 (especially as this is clearly where BMW think the industry is going), however, is its connectivity. Incorporating an intelligent eCall system, the company are aiming to provide a “digital companion” on the roads by using connecting data from a driver’s surroundings to ensure optimum safety and awareness on the roads.

concept image of BMW's VISION NEXT 100 motorbike parked on driveway

Perhaps controversially the bike prototype swaps a helmet for a virtual visor, with Heinrich confident the bike of the future’s connectivity keeps riders safe enough to leave their helmet at home. The display projects the target level of riding onto the road ahead and provides beginners with feedback on their driving, as well as challenging more experienced riders according to Heinrich.

Simple eye movements allow the rider to control their field of vision. This means they can see their level of lean in relation to how they should be positioned, and automatically corrects if the rider does not adjust their angle in time for their safety. Looking up gives riders’ their rear mirror function and lowering their gaze brings gesture control into the mix, as they can access a menu and trigger different features (such as tyre pressure, fuel level and road sign recognition) with a finger gesture. Further lowering their gaze shows riders’ location and route on a map.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication allows riders to connect with and alert fellow riders of problems on the road like traffic or accidents from sending real-time information to cloud.

“No one is interested in a self-driving bike where you just sit there, it’s about exploring and expanding the pleasure that riding gives that riding and optimising that experience,” Heinrich told readwrite on the concept. According to Heinrich, we are 5-10 years off anything like the VISION NEXT 100 motorbike becoming a reality, but hope to produce a series of as many as six inspired bikes after positive feedback in the future.

BMW’s take on the helmet of the future (and where AR fits into that) is clearly something the manufacturer is experimenting with a lot at the moment, after introducing a Head-Up Display (HUD) helmet that beamed real-time information and logistics into the visor earlier this year. Time will tell if AR can fully surpass the safety of helmet and protective clothing with the advent of the ‘connected’ vehicle.