Motoring / Cars and Bikes

Future Motorbike Riders Won’t Need Helmets: BMW

Unveiled Tuesday, BMW claims the prototype BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is a zero-emissions, self-balancing wonder.

Oct 12, 2016 | By Staff Writer

If you’ve always dreamed of riding your bike sans helmet and safety gear, the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is the motorcycle for you. Unveiled Tuesday, BMW claims the prototype is a zero-emissions, self-balancing wonder but, at the same time, reminds us all that this won’t be a reality until 2030 at the earliest.

This happens to be the year the German government wants to phase out the internal combustion engine itself so we wonder if BMW knows more than it is letting on here. Nevertheless, given what has happened at Samsung with the Note 7 – much ballyhooed by the company and observers in the know – there is something to be said for erring on the cautious side.

Now, this whole Vision Next 100 might sound familiar to you and well it should. The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is part of the German automaker’s anniversary celebrations this year. This cheery affair has already seen a futuristic BMW sports car with a flexible body, as well as a self-driving Rolls-Royce and an electric Mini model.

Back to the concept bike at hand, BMW says it is so safe you won’t need a helmet to ride it as you don’t even have to balance it. It has self-balancing wheels designed to stand upright even at a complete stop, stability that the company says will allow riders to forgo a helmet – except to be stylish of course.

“Its self-balancing system will help protect the rider at any time,” said Edgar Heinrich, the design director of BMW’s motorcycle division. “Any late reaction from the driver will trigger and the vehicle will balance out.”

“In the future, motorcycle riders will be able to enjoy riding without protective gear.”

Future Motorbike Riders Won’t Need Helmets: BMW

Company representatives are quick to add that riding without a helmet remains a fantasy for now, though.

Many countries mandate the protective gear and self-balancing technology is still in the developmental stage. There are no plans at this point to make this concept fully autonomous.

“We do not envision autonomy on motorcycles,” said Heinrich, as the driverless autopilot system has faced global scrutiny following fatal crashes in northern China in January and in the US state of Florida in May. To be fair though, we can’t imagine anyone wanting fully autonomous bikes but some level of smart mobility, so to speak, as present in the BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 would no doubt be welcome.

BMW aims to commercialize fully autonomous vehicles by 2021, a company spokesman told the AFP.

The Munich-based group has been collaborating with US computer chip giant Intel and the Israeli technology firm Mobileye to develop self-driving cars.

Last year, the Munich-based group also joined forces with its German rivals Daimler and Audi, the luxury subsidiary of Volkswagen, to buy the Here digital mapping service from Nokia to assist in the effort.

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