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Drivers to Ditch the Helmet

 Drivers to Ditch the Helmet

BMW this week teased a concept motorcycle it says is safe enough to ride without a helmet or protective clothing.

The zero-emission Motorrad Vision Next 100's sleek black triangle frame hints at the first BMW motorcycle, 1923's R32. The Vision model's contemporary arrangement, however, protects the rider from wind and weather.

"The bike has the full range of connected data from its surroundings and a set of intelligent systems working in the background, so it knows exactly what lies ahead," Holger Hampf, head of BMW Group user experience, said. "By collating the data it has gathered, it can suggest ideal lines and banking angles, or warn riders of hazards ahead."

Exchanges between the rider and bike take place via the visor, which not only blocks wind, but shows relevant data in four designated display areas controlled by the rider's eye movements. Look up or down to change what content appears, and look straight ahead to switch the information of entirely.

BMW Vision Vehicles

"A key point … was to make sure the constant digital presence doesn't undermine the analogue riding experience," Hampf added.

The BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 is a fashion statement itself. But that didn't stop the company from adding a flash of style in the form of new rider gear. A futuristic suit can warm or cool the user, and provides body support and relief when needed. It does not, however, offer any safety features, "because the bike's intelligent assistance systems make them superfluous," according to BMW.

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"Normally, when we develop a motorcycle, we tend to think five to 10 years in advance. On this occasion, we looked much further ahead and found the experience especially exciting," said Edgar Heinrich, head of design at BMW Motorrad. "There are some very attractive prospects."

Other BMW-owned brands, like Mini and Rolls-Royce, have also teased concept vehicles this year (above) to celebrate the German carmaker's centennial.

Earlier this year, BMW introduced the future of smart cars: its artificial intelligence program, Digital Companion. The luxury manufacturer's version of KITT, the program will get to know the driver, and eventually perform routine tasks automatically.

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