iNext: What Students in Auto Technology School Should Know about BMW's New Mixed Reality Concept
Although it has yet to be released to the public, and some of its more advanced features are still under development, BMW’s newest concept car, the BMW Vision iNext, offers those with an interest in auto technology some interesting insights into how automakers might dramatically rethink vehicle design in response to developments in autonomous driving technology.
Here’s what students in auto technology school should know about BMW’s new all-electric, fully connected, mixed reality vehicle.
The BMW Vision iNext Is a Level-3 Autonomous Vehicle
The BMW Vision iNext is a level-3 autonomous vehicle. Also known as conditional automation, this is the level of automation at which the onboard computer system is capable of handling all elements of driving “with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene.” This means that in most driving conditions, the onboard system can handle steering, accelerating, and even parking and emergency manoeuvres, without any need for input from the human driver.
This is why the interior of the Vision iNext looks so unlike most other car interiors: it’s designed not for active driving, but as a comfortable and functional space to spend time while being couriered to your next location.
The iNext’s Interior Is Built for Comfort and Style
There are a number of interesting features included in the Vision iNext that contribute to the car’s luxurious rider experience.
Designed to look more like the interior of a fashionable lounge than a car, the cabin is finished in hand-woven Jacquard fabric and open-pore wood, with a banquette-style back seat. The dashboard is minimalist, with only a steering wheel and two electronic displays.
Students in Auto Technology School Will be Interested in the Use of Shy Tech
One feature that should be of interest to students at auto technology school is the iNext’s use of so-called “shy tech,” integrating a high level of functionality with minimal or hidden controls.
The iNext has two modes: boost, for driving, and ease, for automated travel. In boost mode, functions like music can be operated by using the electronic touch-displays on the dashboard, and the car can be driven like normal. In ease mode, however, the pedals sink down to become flush with the floor, the steering wheel retracts slightly to make more space, freeing the driver to turn and face the other passengers.
In ease mode, the wooden surface of the centre console can be used to control features, and the intelligent fabric covering the backseat can be used to control music playback, with LEDs lighting up underneath the surface for visual emphasis. This type of shy tech offers a high level of functionality inside the car with almost no visible controls.
Get a look at the BMW Vision iNext in this short clip:
A Mixed Reality Windshield Display Is Still Under Development
Another futuristic feature that’s still under development is a mixed reality display system that turns the front windshield into a large video screen while the car is driving autonomously, which can be operated through voice control with the iNext’s Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA). This screen could be used for a number of activities, including taking video calls and even watching television.
The feature only exists as a VR simulation right now, so students are unlikely to run across it in an automotive technology course anytime soon. However, BMW is currently working to develop the technology for widespread adoption by 2025.
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