For her final thesis at Umea Institute of Design, Anja Didrichsons focused on creating a concept motorcycle that would be at one with the rider. Called the BMW Motorrad Spirit, the concept was one of the many that also featured a VR component – she built a foam model of the bike so riders could experience the design in full scale; see it, walk around it, and experience it first hand.
The BMW Motorrad Spirit concept provides a revolutionary experience for future motorcycle riders. The concept focuses on the opportunities artificial intelligence could bring to motorcycling via an interactive element that creates an opportunity to build a deeper and even more visceral relationship between the rider and the bike.
According to Didrichsons, artificial intelligence (AI) will become more and more important in our daily lives in the future. In that future scenario, developing human-machine interactions will be crucial. The BMW Motorrad Spirit concept, therefore, creates a human-machine symbiosis and is controlled like an extension of the human body, with intuitive movements.
The built-in AI is the rider’s companion; it develops its own character and consciousness over time. It learns and grows together with the rider and is adapted to the rider. Growing trust enables more possibilities to push the limits and enjoying the power of this unique riding experience.
Slight motions of the bike and the rider express the character of the AI, which communicates through the sensorial interaction areas, where the rider touches the motorcycle. The rider steers the bike with his/her whole body and the rider’s movements. The structure ensures the agility of the bike and the communication between the human and the motorcycle through sensorial interaction areas. It also supports the different seating positions and the transitions between them.
The central element of the BMW Motorrad Spirit is its spine-like construction, which controls the movements of the vehicle. It also works as suspension for the front and rear drive unit. Three contact spheres are housed in the front steering unit, which transmit steering input to the road. They are based on the same principle as a stepper motor.
The BMW Motorrad Spirit concept is electric and powered by a Flex battery – an elastic battery that allows the motorcycles to bend and twist. The battery consists of small sphere cells that are housed in a flexible shell. Didrichsons developed the battery concept during this project.
Combining the advantages of a gasoline-driven and electrically driven vehicle, the battery pack can be charged or the user can empty the cells and refill the pack with charged cells. The process is as convenient and quick as quickly as refueling a car today. This could bring e-mobility one step closer to a practical daily use.
Didrichsons’ BMW Motorrad Spirit concept was just one of the many projects that shows the creativity and design thinking of the students enrolled in and graduating from the Umea Institute of Design’s Transportation Design program. I’ll be featuring other projects from the course as well as an exclusive video with the graduating class in due course.