Automotive

BMW crowd-sourcing the future of urban driving technology

BMW crowd-sourcing the future ...
The Vision ConnectedDrive is one of BMW's visions for the future; what's yours?
The Vision ConnectedDrive is one of BMW's visions for the future; what's yours?
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The Rally Fighter is Local Motors' first official offering
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The Rally Fighter is Local Motors' first official offering
BMW unveiled the Vision ConnectedDrive concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show
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BMW unveiled the Vision ConnectedDrive concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show
Part Dukes of Hazard, part Dakar Rally
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Part Dukes of Hazard, part Dakar Rally
The styling was meant to convey motion, even when the car was at rest
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The styling was meant to convey motion, even when the car was at rest
The Rally Fighter uses a 430-hp 6.2-liter V-8
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The Rally Fighter uses a 430-hp 6.2-liter V-8
BMW has tapped the minds that created the Rally Fighter
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BMW has tapped the minds that created the Rally Fighter
BMW has tapped the minds that created the Rally Fighter
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BMW has tapped the minds that created the Rally Fighter
The Vision ConnectedDrive is one of BMW's visions for the future; what's yours?
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The Vision ConnectedDrive is one of BMW's visions for the future; what's yours?
The Vision ConnectedDrive was only a concept
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The Vision ConnectedDrive was only a concept
BMW used the VCD to showcase technologies and design
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BMW used the VCD to showcase technologies and design
Technology in the concept included a 3-D heads-up display and programmable instrument cluster
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Technology in the concept included a 3-D heads-up display and programmable instrument cluster
The styling was meant to convey motion, even when the car was at rest
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The styling was meant to convey motion, even when the car was at rest
The headlights and taillights contained sensors for monitoring traffic
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The headlights and taillights contained sensors for monitoring traffic
Instead of mirrors, the VCD used antennae to pull information from the world around
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Instead of mirrors, the VCD used antennae to pull information from the world around
Unlike its brother the Vision EfficientDynamics, now the i8, the VCD will not make it to production
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Unlike its brother the Vision EfficientDynamics, now the i8, the VCD will not make it to production
The three layers of the VCD - comfort, infotainment and safety - each had their own color
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The three layers of the VCD - comfort, infotainment and safety - each had their own color
Technology in the concept included a 3-D heads-up display and programmable instrument cluster
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Technology in the concept included a 3-D heads-up display and programmable instrument cluster
The VCD's sliding doors were inspired by the BMW Z1
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The VCD's sliding doors were inspired by the BMW Z1
BMW's latest take on compact sustainability is the Concept Active Tourer
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BMW's latest take on compact sustainability is the Concept Active Tourer
A focus on technology and comfort
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A focus on technology and comfort
A focus on technology and comfort
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A focus on technology and comfort
The Concept Active Tourer is a hybrid
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The Concept Active Tourer is a hybrid
BMW will debut the Concept Active Tourer at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
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BMW will debut the Concept Active Tourer at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
BMW will debut the Concept Active Tourer at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
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BMW will debut the Concept Active Tourer at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
The hybrid powertrain combines a 1.5-liter twin-turbo 3-cylinder engine and an electric motor
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The hybrid powertrain combines a 1.5-liter twin-turbo 3-cylinder engine and an electric motor
Like the Vision ConnectedDrive, the Concept Active Tourer is meant to convey "a dynamic feel even when stationary."
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Like the Vision ConnectedDrive, the Concept Active Tourer is meant to convey "a dynamic feel even when stationary."
BMW will show the latest i3 concept at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
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BMW will show the latest i3 concept at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
The i3 is BMW's current vision of a small, sustainable car for urban travel
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The i3 is BMW's current vision of a small, sustainable car for urban travel
BMW plans to show the production i3 in 2013
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BMW plans to show the production i3 in 2013
The latest i3 concept gets an updated interior
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The latest i3 concept gets an updated interior
The new interior includes eucalyptus wood on the instrument panel
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The new interior includes eucalyptus wood on the instrument panel
The tanning agents used for the leather seats are derived from olive leaves
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The tanning agents used for the leather seats are derived from olive leaves
The i3 was originally called the Megacity Vehicle
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The i3 was originally called the Megacity Vehicle
The i3 and the i8 will be the first production cars in BMW's i line
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The i3 and the i8 will be the first production cars in BMW's i line
The i3 is BMW's current vision of a small, sustainable car for urban travel
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The i3 is BMW's current vision of a small, sustainable car for urban travel
The interior also includes wool trim
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The interior also includes wool trim
The i3 is an all-electric vehicle
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The i3 is an all-electric vehicle
BMW shows the concept with the i Pedelec scooter in the trunk
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BMW shows the concept with the i Pedelec scooter in the trunk
The four-seater has opposing doors
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The four-seater has opposing doors
The i3's eDrive powertrain uses a 125-kW (170-hp) electric motor
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The i3's eDrive powertrain uses a 125-kW (170-hp) electric motor
The tanning agents used for the leather seats are derived from olive leaves
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The tanning agents used for the leather seats are derived from olive leaves
BMW will show the latest i3 concept at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
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BMW will show the latest i3 concept at the 2012 Paris Motor Show
The new interior includes eucalyptus wood on the instrument panel
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The new interior includes eucalyptus wood on the instrument panel
The production i3 is scheduled to debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
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The production i3 is scheduled to debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
BMW gives the i3 an airy, "lounge-like" cabin
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BMW gives the i3 an airy, "lounge-like" cabin
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One of the most established luxury auto marques is teaming up with one of the market's latest, buzziest firms to visualize the future of design and technology. BMW is working with crowd-source guru Local Motors in a new contest designed to gain a broader perspective on the future of sustainable urban mobility.

BMW and Local Motors couldn't have more contrasting images. It's like the rich, weathered executive counting his money versus the hungry, brainy tech guru with his mind around an idea that could change the entire industry – or possibly leave him bankrupt. And perhaps it's these contrasting backgrounds that make BMW and Local Motors such compelling partners.

For those that aren't familiar, Local Motors is a small Phoenix, Arizona-based automotive firm that uses crowd sourcing for brainstorming, designing, refining and developing vehicle ideas. They work with an Internet community of more than 20,000 designers, engineers, auto enthusiasts and other passionate minds toward developing unique, customer-centric offerings. As evidenced by their first car the Rally Fighter, this creative process results in something very different than what the good old boys at traditional automakers push to dealerships.

The Rally Fighter is Local Motors' first official offering
The Rally Fighter is Local Motors' first official offering

It seems to be the different approach and result that BMW is interested in. BMW already prides itself on staying near the cutting edge of new technology, as evidenced by some of its latest vehicles and equipment designs, and it already has some interesting technological concepts of its own, so perhaps it decided it time to look outside its corporate walls for new ideas.

The "Urban Driving Experience Challenge" tasks Local Motors' design community, called The Forge, with brainstorming function and feature ideas for future urban vehicles. Specifically, BMW is looking to the year 2025 as a basis for the contest.

"Increasing urbanization, changing infrastructures and environmental pollution call for mobility solutions that strike a balance between global requirements and individual needs," BMW explains in its announcement. "This is nowhere more apparent than in the most densely populated and fastest growing urban centers around the world. The BMW Group has chosen to work with the open-source community at Local Motors to offer consumers the opportunity to participate in this endeavor."

The production i3 is scheduled to debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
The production i3 is scheduled to debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

The contest will come in two phases. The first kicked off on September 25 and will run until October 16. BMW plans to award more than US$30,000 to challenge winners, and some top winners will also have the chance to win a trip to Germany to meet with BMW executives.

While most ideas that come out of the contest probably won't get very far, Dr Christoph Grote, Managing Director BMW Group Research and Technology, says: “The results will undoubtedly be very valuable for BMW, and we eagerly anticipate the extent to which we can channel the expertise we acquire into our series-production processes.”

While the video below is mostly BMW tooting its own horn for past accomplishments, it does illustrate the types of past technological innovations BMW had in mind when developing the contest.

Source: BMW and Local Motors

BMW Urban Driving Experience Challenge Intro Video

View gallery - 45 images
3 comments
Matt Jackson
Great article Chris! We at Local Motors appreciate the shout out!
Gargamoth
I'd like to see a hard top for the BMW vision, but it's a gorgeous car!
Peter Green
Hope they can finally crowdsource the exterior of their cars..