BMW continues to challenge the challenges
“Innovations that reach far beyond the conventional vehicle context” That is how BMW describe their ongoing future transport solution envelope stretching endeavours, as they look at ideas to address the “individual and sustainable mobility” challenges the world’s conurbations face.
Their latest speculative contribution to the debate appears to owe a debt to Fritz Lang’s 1920’s vision the future of urban transport, with their “Research, New Technologies, Innovations” division offering a unique vision of how the world’s population can remain mobile in the face of increasing urbanisation.
“Our goal is to link sustainable and efficient mobility with a high quality of living in cities. We use new technologies as well as our creativity in order to create innovative approaches, such as the BMW Vision E³ Way”, explained Dr. Gerd Schuster, Senior Vice President Research, New Technologies and Innovations.
“The “BMW Group Technology Offices” in Mountain View (CA), Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul guarantee proximity to the world’s technological hotspots, while a central department for trend and technology scouting collates and supplements the insights acquired in the field. Once challenges and needs have been identified, they are then fed into concrete research projects”.
Developed at the BMW Group Technology Office China in Shanghai, the BMW Vision E³ Way project shows a radical mobility concept that is “designed not just to specifically address the challenges faced by megacities – such as traffic congestion and air pollution – but to provide a solution that is both simple and effective”.
It consists of an elevated road concept for electrically powered two-wheel vehicles which links key traffic hubs in urban conurbations. The three E’s stand for “elevated”, “electric” and “efficient” – “the concept’s defining properties. The use of roadways that are elevated above existing roads means the project generates additional traffic capacity. The BMW Vision E³ Way is “explicitly conceived for locally emission-free single-track mobility concepts only (“electric”), such as e-bikes, the BMW Motorrad Concept Link and the recently presented BMW Motorrad X2 City – another concept developed by the “Research, New Technologies, Innovations” division.
“The elevated road is simple and modular in design, economical to build as a result, and provides a fast, direct link between key traffic hubs, making it the perfect alternative for commuters travelling up to 15 km. This makes use of the elevated road very efficient - not only in terms of cost but also as regards travel time (“efficient”).
“The BMW Vision E³ Way opens up a whole new dimension of mobility in overcrowded conurbations – efficient, convenient and safe. It works by simply creating space for two-wheel zero-emissions traffic,” explains Dr. Markus Seidel, Director BMW Group Technology Office China. “In China, more than a billion people will be living in cities by 2050. The country will become the global incubator for numerous mobility innovations such as the BMW Vision E³ Way “ Seidel adds.
Ramps and sluice systems are used to connect the BMW Vision E³ Way to the regular road network, underground stations, other traffic hubs, and even shopping malls. By shifting single-track mobility to its own spatial level, “the BMW Vision E³ Way makes daily commuting not just faster but safer, too. The fact that is used solely by electrically powered two-wheel vehicles means that collisions with cars are ruled out. The general risk of accidents is further reduced by means of an automatic speed limit of 25 km/h. In addition, there is an elaborate system of lanes that separates filtering traffic from flowing traffic: not until travel speed has been reached do the two merge.
“The BMW Vision E³ Way is not just fast and safe to use, but convenient. Those who do not already own a vehicle approved for the E³ Way can still use the facility spontaneously by means of a sharing scheme that provides rental vehicles at each access point. The elevated road is largely roofed over, ensuring protection from rain and heat. A cooling system with purified rainwater creates pleasant temperatures: this can also be used to clean the road surface at night.
“The outstanding feature of the E³ Way concept is that it takes existing emission-free mobility solutions on two wheels such as e-bikes and the BMW Motorrad X2 City and places them on a new traffic level: this means the vision can be realised quickly and without the need for additional space. Initial feasibility studies demonstrate that a concept such as this can significantly reduce congestion, emissions, travel time and the risk of accidents. Traffic flow is permanently optimised by means of automated video surveillance systems and artificial intelligence as well as through the integration of smart city ecosystems. And the best thing is that its modular design and free scalability make the concept essentially suitable for use in any megacity”.
BMW say that the E³ Way is just “one possible solution to the question “What will move us (forward) in the future?” At the same time, it exemplifies the innovative spirit of the BMW Group – its capacity to produce concepts such as this that extend far beyond the conventional vehicle context. Our aspiration in the future will continue to be innovation and technology leadership at the premium level,” explained Dr. Rainer Daude, Project Director Special Projects and Mobility Concepts.
“The very meaning of the term ‘premium’ will change in the future too, of course. Attributes such as ‘straightforward’, ‘convenient’, ‘efficient’, ‘safe’ and ‘emission-free’ are becoming increasingly important. In concrete terms, this means being able to offer solutions that meet all mobility needs, with the capacity to make better use of travel time and/or to cover distances in less time – offering the highest possible level of safety, convenience and efficiency.”