Last month, we shared reports that Lit Motors, a small startup best known for developing self-balancing two-wheel vehicles, became an acquisition target for several major companies, including BMW. In an interesting development, BMW unveiled today its own self-balancing electric motorcycle concept.
BMW’s concept is very much a motorcycle and not an enclosed two-wheel vehicle like Lit Motors’ C1 concept.
The new bike is part of BMW’s NEXT100 Vision series of concept vehicles to celebrate the German automaker’s centenary and to envision what its future lineup of vehicles will look like in the next 100 years. Though they admit that marketing talk aside, they are more accurately talking about the next 20 or 30 years.
Previous concepts unveiled during BMW’s NEXT100 Vision tour include the crazy-looking autonomous vehicle concept with dynamic fenders and Rolls-Royce’s ostentatious self-driving concept. While the vehicles look nothing like what BMW would bring to production, it’s still encouraging that they are using electric powertrains for all the concepts.
BMW didn’t elaborate on the powertrain of the new motorcycle concept, but it’s safe to assume that it’s electric since they refer to it as “a zero-emissions solution” and the prototype they unveiled was completely silent.
They wanted to keep some of BMW’s long motorcycle heritage, the company’s motorcycle business actually predates its car business, so they kept the traditional BMW boxer engine look. It’s not just for looks though because it can actually extend and retract depending on the riding conditions in order to become more aerodynamic.
The main feature of the bike though is not its drivetrain but its self-balancing technology, which is particularly interesting amid the rumored talks with Lit Motors.
During the unveiling of the new vehicle, BMW officials emphasized that the fact the vehicle is doing more to control the riding experience doesn’t mean that the motorcycle is losing its feeling of freedom. For experienced riders, the self-balancing system only kicks in to correct and optimize the rider’s actions and it can be more active for beginners.
The German company describes the bike as “the perfect synthesis between human and machine.”
Furthermore, they envision a future in which you wouldn’t need to wear protective gears, not even a helmet because the vehicle would self-correct and stay upright in case of an accident.
It’s not clear what would prevent you from falling off the bike though…
Unfortunately, BMW didn’t elaborate on the technology powering the self-balancing system. Lit Motors’ tech consists of two control momentum gyroscopes (CMG), which use gyroscopic torque to keep its two-wheeled vehicle in an upright position at a complete stop, automatically lean into turns and even counterweight in the instance of a collision.
BMW described similar capabilities for the NEXT100 Vision motorcycle.