the ‘connected drive’ concept car by BMW



designed to showcase the company’s ‘connected drive‘ technology system, BMW’s ‘vision connected drive’ vehicle is a low-riding roadster that has been holistically engineered around the three principles of safety, ‘infotainment’, and convenience. ten years of research have gone into the expansive plans that compose the system, which seeks to seamlessly network the driver, vehicle, and outside environment.



video footage surveying the car’s exterior


visually, the car’s interior is designed around a layered concept, whose distinct areas are delineated with coloured fibre optic strands. these lights correspond to the functionality of the vehicle, displaying either red, blue, or green depending on the types of built-in services users are accessing at any given time. the traditional dashboard is replaced by the ‘head-up display’, which digitally renders important information directly onto the windscreen in front of the driver, while passengers can access maps, guides, and other features via an instrument panel situated on their side of the vehicle. when inactive, the visual display is invisible, but touch-sensitive fabric below the screen allows the device to be easily turned on and interacted with.

the vehicle’s exterior features taillights whose interior is sculpted to produce a more three-dimensional appearance. the side doors slide apart and into the body of the car itself, and can be left open during driving.

BMW: vision connected drive at geneva motor show 2011 full profile view

BMW: vision connected drive at geneva motor show 2011 front view

BMW: vision connected drive at geneva motor show 2011 back view

all ‘vision connected drive’ car services work through a SIM card that comes preinstalled in the car, and in addition to easily integrating with computers and smartphones, the car itself features a range of utility services, each of which serves in the greater ‘connected drive’ network. for example, updated traffic announcements are taken into account by the vehicle’s GPS system when providing directions.

one of the primary focuses of the ‘connected drive’ design is safety, accomplished through technology that interfaces between the car and external environment, relaying information to the driver. thus the ‘head-up display’ windscreen becomes the site of warnings issued when the car detects road hazards like failed traffic lights, or speeding cars at approaching intersections. in the case of possible collisions with another vehicle, an augmented reality system assesses the environment to determine the best mode of action, displaying arrows over the lanes or shoulder that would provide the safest route. the safety features are supported by BMW’s car2car cooperative sensory system that shares vehicle data like position and speed among nearby cars, while sensory systems are also built into the headlights and taillights to recognize people, vehicles, and other objects.

BMW’s eckhard steinmeier demos the features built into the ‘connected drive’ system

while a preprogrammed SOS button, along with the already available ‘BMW assist’, helps streamline response to emergency situations either observed or experienced, the vehicle’s ‘connected drive’ call center offers direct service for more luxury concerns, addressing the ‘infotainment’ cluster of ‘connected drive’ functionality. through the call center, drivers are put in touch with a human operator who can provide information about nearby conveniences or restaurants, automatically transfer address information from desired destinations to the vehicle, and even make reservations at restaurants or hotels.

in other ‘infotainment’, an ’emotional browser’ feature depicts articles on nearby points of interest, filterable by type, onto the passenger side instrument panel, while gesture-based controls permit the passenger to pass information onto the the driver-side instrument cluster.

BMW also foresees the ability to transfer maps and directions directly from computer web searches to the vehicle with a ‘send to car’ button integrated into search websites.

BMW: vision connected drive at geneva motor show 2011 the windscreen in front of the driver’s seat doubles as an information panel

BMW: vision connected drive at geneva motor show 2011 fibre optic strands outline elements of the interior

an example scenario offered by BMW illustrates the breadth of functionality that ‘connected drive’ technology seeks to offer. upon his entry into the vehicle, the car automatically syncs with the driver’s smartphone, and after recognizing an appointment in the calendar, automatically programs GPS to arrive at the meeting location, taking into account traffic information and parking options. lunch reservations can be made while enroute by contacting the ‘connected drive’ call center, inquiring for nearby restaurants of a particular cuisine, and the address will be automatically sent to the car, available to be added at the touch of a button as a GPS destination. upon arrival, BMW’s parkinfo feature, already available in some german BMW models, automatically shows the driver all currently available parking spots in a given lot or garage, and the vehicle can send the last steps of the walking directions directly to the user’s phone.

BMW: vision connected drive at geneva motor show 2011 the side doors slide into the car’s body, enabling the ‘vision connected drive’ to be driven with the doors open

BMW: vision connected drive at geneva motor show 2011 detail on taillight

further research projects include the ability to use the vehicle key as a near field communication -ready device, usable as a credit card that then doubles as a transportation or event ticket, and the expansion of navigation coverage into off-road areas like buildings.

interviews and footage detailing the development of the ‘connected drive’ concept