It's impossible to know what life will look like in 30 years, but BMW has some pretty cool ideas, especially when it comes to motorcycles.
This week, the German car and bike maker was in L.A. showing off a concept bike that balances by itself and doesn't need the rider to wear a helmet. The reason: Motorcycles in the future will be too smart to crash.
Called the Vision Next 100, the bike is BMW's idea of what motorcycling might be like in 2046. With a look that combines the aggression of Mad Max with the futuristic Jetsons, it has a shape that is artistic, chunky and triangular. An upside-down A frames an engine that looks like a classic BMW boxer but is instead emissions free.
Coupled with the bike itself is a pair of "data glasses" that extend across the rider's field of vision, providing wind protection and also operating as a sort of head-up display. Reading the rider's eye movements, the glasses display information ranging from the rider's speed and gear position to warnings about upcoming hazards.
Because the bike of the future will be equipped with computer systems that make it too smart to crash, BMW has also developed riding gear that foregoes its usual safety role in favor of comfort. There's no need for leather or armor. Because of the bike's built-in digital safety systems, the riding suit will never make contact with the pavement.
Instead, it automatically warms or cools depending on the weather, based on sensors that keep track of the wearer's pulse and body temperature. At higher speeds, the neck section of the suit inflates for extra support of the upper vertebrae. The suit also provides haptic navigation -- vibrating the arms or legs to tell the rider when to turn.
In BMW's vision of the future, most vehicles will drive themselves. People will organize their lives through digital devices. And most of the population will have migrated to cities. Should that future play out, BMW's Vision Next 100 motorcycle is ready to take on the role traditional motorcycles have long played -- as an experience that rebels against the norm.