BMW is celebrating 100 years of manfuacturing this year. In fact, today is the company's 100th birthday but rather than reflect on its past, the German automaker is looking far into the future with a new concept car known as the Vision Next 100 Vehicle.
Unveiled earlier today at the Munich Olympic Hall, the Vision Next 100 Vehicle is – as you'd expect – loaded with autonomous features.
The car offers two drive modes. In "Boost" mode, a human pilots the vehicle much like we drive cars today. Switching to "Ease" mode lets the driver kick back while the car takes over driving duties. In this latter mode, the steering wheel retracts and the front seats move a bit to make it easier to carry on conversation with passengers. Even the car's interior lighting changes to reflect the driving mode.
As CNET points out, the vehicle's entire front windshield doubles as an augmented reality display where all gauges and other driving aides are displayed. In Boost mode, the display will even draw out a proper driving line when taking turns. When in Ease mode, the display transforms into something like a tour guide, highlighting local attractions and so forth.
BMW's Vision Next 100 Vehicle is also outfitted with something called The Companion. It's a gemstone-shaped object that serves as a visual representation of the car's artificial intelligence system. The Companion functions differently based on the drive mode and can even signal to pedestrians that it's safe to cross the street.
BMW said the vehicle is emissions-free but failed to delve any deeper into its powertrain.
As is customary with concept vehicles, it's probably safe to assume that most of these forward-looking features won't make it into a production vehicle anytime soon. Even still, it's refreshing to see that BWM envisions a future in which drivers are still part of the equation (if they so choose to be).