BMW's Futuristic Motorcycle Balances on Its Own

The Motorrad Vision Next 100 will use self-balancing tech, which could do away with helmets and protective pads. (Image credit: BMW)

The motorcycle of the future is so smart that it could eliminate the need for protective gear, according to automaker BMW.

To mark its 100th birthday, BMW has unveiled a number of concept vehicles that imagine the future of transportation. Possibly its most daring revelation, the so-called Motorrad Vision Next 100 concept motorcycle is so advanced that BMW claims riders wouldn't need a helmet.

The Motorrad Vision Next 100 would have a self-balancing system that keeps the bike upright both in motion and when still. BMW touted the motorbike's futuristic features, saying it would allow for riders of all skill levels to "enjoy the sensation of absolute freedom." According to the automaker, the Motorrad wouldn't require protective gear such as helmets and padded suits. [Photos: The Robotic Evolution of Self-Driving Cars]

Another traditional feature was also missing from the concept: a control panel. Instead, helmetless riders would wear a visor that acts as a smart display.

"Information is exchanged between rider and bike largely via the smart visor," BMW said in a statement. "This spans the rider's entire field of view and provides not only wind protection but also relevant information, which it projects straight into the line of sight as and when it is needed."

Such information would not be needed all the time because drivers will be able to hand over active control of the vehicle at points; the Motorrad and other Vision Next 100 vehicles would be equipped with self-driving technology, according to BMW.

The futuristic motorcycle and other concepts released during the centennial event were noted as "zero emissions" vehicles, because BMW said it believes the future of transportation is electric. 

Other concepts in the Next 100 Years series included a massive Rolls-Royce (measuring nearly 20 feet long) that is referred to as "her" because of the vehicles' AI called Eleanor. Eleanor is fully autonomous, with a couch instead of seats and no steering wheel. BMW also unveiled a Mini concept that is partially transparent and designed completely around car-sharing. No need to own this future Mini, because BMW said the vehicle can be called to a location with an app, arriving autonomously, and ready for use.

Original article on Live Science.

Kacey Deamer
Staff Writer
Kacey Deamer is a journalist for Live Science, covering planet earth and innovation. She has previously reported for Mother Jones, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Neon Tommy and more. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies at Ithaca College, Kacey pursued her master's in Specialized Journalism: Climate Change at USC Annenberg. Follow Kacey on Twitter.