Automotive factories can be big spaces requiring workers to cover serious miles as they go about their business. In the case of BMW, some employees can walk up to 12 km (7.5 mi) a day, often carting around parts with them. The company is exploring a new approach to workplace mobility, developing a Segway-like personal vehicle that lets employees glide across the factory floor.
Simply dubbed the Personal Mover Concept for now, the five-wheeled electric vehicle is built to carry one person at a time across short distances within BMW's plants. Its platform measures 60 x 80 cm (23 x 31.5 in) so heavy objects and materials can be taken along for the ride.
All electrics are built into the handlebar, which stands 110 cm tall (3.6 ft) and, along with a drive wheel, sits towards the front of the platform. The two front wheels can rotate 360 degrees to afford the Personal Mover Concept greater maneuverability, while the drive wheel in the center can turn 90 degrees to the left and right.
Riders propel themselves forward with a thumb throttle on the right grip and come to a stop with a brake on the left. The vehicle also features regenerative braking that BMW says works similarly to that found in the BMW i3, making for a range of 20 to 30 km (12.4 to 18.6 mi).
The Personal Mover Concept can be charged from a regular wall socket and is equipped with LEDs and a bell for safety as it zips around the factory at up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph). This top speed is adjustable for use in different settings, however, with the maximum speed allowed on BMW's factory grounds just 12 km/h (7.5 mph).
BMW has built five prototypes of its Personal Mover Concept so far, and designed it to be deployed at its FIZ research center in Munich. While the company imagines the vehicles being used in BMW facilities all over the world, it's also possible that it could find use in airports, shopping malls and exhibition centers. BMW says it has had early discussions with operators exploring those possibilities.
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