BMW Embraces the Future of Self-Driving Cars
While not a concept car, exactly, BMW has unveiled its new Inside Future concept of how car interiors can evolve with the advent of the autonomous car. Presented as the BMWi at recent car shows, this model features an interior that looks like something out of a well-appointed home. There are the usual high-tech accouterments with the added bonus of an old school bookcase. The concept presents a fully connected vehicle with a panoramic display touchscreen that requires no touch. The virtual free-floating system entitled the HoloActive Touch System is controlled via hand gestures and housed over the center console.
The design is all about bringing the feel of being home to travel by self-driving automobiles. Look most models, the steering retracts when not in use, and there is plenty of room to recline and relax. The back seat features a large entertainment console with reclining seats for viewing comfort. BMW is currently working with both Intel and Mobileye as they prepare to road test drive 40 self-driving car models by the end of this year. The BMWi employs a lot of wood touches as well as futuristic seating designs that look like they may have been borrowed from the Jetsons.
The entire interior is designed with the user-experience in mind, and every creature comfort has been attended to. There are two modalities available to passengers in the BMWi, We Time and Me Time, a feature that sounds as though it was created with millennials in mind. Devices can all be synched to communicate seamlessly from your home, to your mobile device, and into your car without skipping a beat. The HoloActive Touch system dims when not in use, and while the car is geared toward extreme connectivity, there is active attention given to minimizing distractions.
In keeping with the car/home dynamic, there is a sound screen that allows passengers to enjoy their entertainment without disturbing the driver. Speakers are even aligned to the separate zones that allow each passenger to have their own experience, or interact with other people in the car. The aim of BMW designers is to meld both the physical and digital experiences to create a seamless environment that meets or exceed all of the driver's requirements. The ecosystem is completely connected via BMW Connected and the Open Mobility Cloud systems. Route assist benefits from traffic patterns data and information shared by other vehicles.
While the BMWi is solely a showcase of the possible interior set-up of their future self-driving cars, it is exciting to see the design and interactive systems that BMW is exploring. With the premium user experiences coupled with the high concept design touches, BMW surely is a frontrunner in the race to best meet its customers' user experiences. It will be interesting to see the 40-car roll-out that BMW predicts will happen before year-end that will road test their self-driving cars. Knowing BMW, the driving experience will rival the enjoyment that passengers enjoy in the BMWi.