BMW:MINI Vision Urbanaut. The virtual vision becomes a tangible reality.
Munich. With the presentation of the MINI Vision
Urbanaut virtual vision vehicle in November 2020, the MINI brand
revealed an all-new interpretation of mobility through an innovative
vision of space. And now the BMW Group is set to unveil a physical
model of the vehicle which will allow audiences to engage more
extensively with the spatial concept and sustainable materials at
work. The model will be given its world premiere on 1 July 2021 at the
DLD Summer conference in Munich.
“At MINI we see it as our responsibility to preserve and develop the
unique characteristics of our brand over the upcoming years and those
further ahead,” explains Bernd Körber, Head of MINI. “With our eyes
fixed on the future, we have developed an idea, with the MINI Vision
Urbanaut, of how we can take the MINI attributes – as here, with the
focus on the ‘Clever Use of Space’ – into the future of mobility and
interpret them in a typically MINI way. It brings the user’s personal
space into the car and opens up various possibilities for them, from
creating an urban oasis to experiencing freedom in the ‘Wanderlust’
moment. The MINI Vision Urbanaut represents our image of how MINI’s
‘Clever Use of Space’ could provide an answer to the needs of future
cities and lifestyles.”
Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design adds: “At MINI Design we believe
that the best way to understand the overall concept behind the MINI
Vision Urbanaut is to experience it. The feeling of space and the
innovative materials are just asking to be explored. That is why it
was very important for us from the outset to also make a physical
model of the MINI Vision Urbanaut. And now that moment has come. We
have planned and built every aspect of the model – which allows people
to experience all of the facets of the MINI Vision Urbanaut – at our
MINI Design Studio in Munich.“
Extending the idea of mobility beyond driving – the MINI moments.
MINI sees its future self primarily as an enabler of and companion
for unforgettable times, what we’re calling “MINI moments”. Inspired
by the question “What kind of experiences do I want to have with my
vehicle?”, they provide the conceptual platform for the MINI Vision
Urbanaut – for times when you’re travelling and others when you’re
not. What this means more specifically is encapsulated up by the MINI
moments “Chill”, “Wanderlust” and “Vibe”. The exterior and interior of
the vehicle change to reflect the MINI moment at hand and so give the
on-board experience the best possible stage and spatial environment.
Fragrance, sound and ambient lighting continue to enrich the baseline
mood initiated by the chosen MINI moment. The transformation of the
vehicle through the different moments can now also be experienced in
stunning reality thanks to the creation of a physical model of the
MINI Vision Urbanaut.
The Chill moment invites you to catch a breath and pause in the here
and now. The car becomes a kind of retreat, a haven where you can
relax or work with full concentration. While the rear seat bench (Cosy
Corner) invites various seating and lying positions, the backlit Loop
above it takes on an appearance inspired by a green forest canopy and
can also be dimmed. In the central area, the circular instrument folds
down to become a table lamp, eliminating displays or switches that
might remind the customer of their automotive surroundings.
Wanderlust is the only MINI moment where the MINI Vision Urbanaut is
being driven or driving with automated driving functions. In this
moment, the interior becomes the ideal place for driving the car, or
being driven by it, and enables those on board to rediscover the
romance of travel. When the customer wants to drive themselves, a tap
of a finger on the MINI logo brings out the steering wheel and pedals.
And the user interface on the central circular instrument also adapts
its visuals; alongside an animation of the route, additional journey
information – such as visitor attractions and arrival time – is
displayed here for those on board.
The Vibe moment puts time with other people at centre stage – in
every way. Opening the side door and folding up the windscreen creates
a welcoming scene that blurs the boundaries between the outside and
inside. The central circular instrument becomes a media control
centre. An animation of graphic equalizers moving with the music is
projected onto surfaces of the front, rear, wheels and Loop above the
rear seat bench, creating a pleasant club atmosphere. If those on
board so desire, the car could even begin to resemble a boombox. And
then there is the fourth option, the customisable “my moment”, which
provides users with further scope for tailoring the design of the
vehicle to their needs and desires.
As well as its wide range of uses, the MINI Vision Urbanaut also
focuses on sustainability – and this can be seen and experienced
directly in various aspects of the vehicle. The starting point for the
concept was the “Clever Use of Space” for which MINI is renowned; i.e.
it offers maximum space on the smallest possible footprint. Although
the MINI Vision Urbanaut is only 4.46 m in length, its height allows
it to provide an interior space that can be used in many different
ways and offers a whole new ease of movement inside the car. The
electric drive system ensures locally emission-free mobility. And
another aspect is the scope for using the vehicle for purposes beyond
mobility. Indeed, the MINI Vision Urbanaut also creates an urban space
for people when it’s standing still, significantly increasing the
amount of time they will want to use the vehicle or just hang out in it.
The MINI Vision Urbanaut also sets out to use resources responsibly.
To this end, from the beginning of the concept phase the team focused
on consistently reducing the number of components and avoiding
unnecessary use of materials. This has been achieved by developments
including clever dual-functionality for the dashboard (it can turn
into a daybed) and the debut appearance of a circular OLED centre
display – which recasts itself as a stylish lamp in the Chill moment –
above the table. Maximising length of use by ensuring materials can be
replaced is likewise a priority. Changeable covers are a good example
of how this can be achieved. In addition, the interior has been
created without the use of chrome or leather, an approach that will
also be rolled out in the next MINI model generation.
High-quality and sustainable material innovations.
The interior of the MINI Vision Urbanaut features a high proportion
of recycled materials and the materials used are almost exclusively
renewable and recyclable. The dominant material in the interior are
textiles made from recycled materials (including wool, polyester and
Tencel) which blend cosiness and quality with softness and comfort.
The designers also paid extra attention to solutions composed of a
single type of material – what are known as “mono-materials”. These
are easy to recycle further down the line and can be turned into new
products. The use of renewable and recyclable cork on the steering
wheel and sections of the floor adds a special touch thanks to its
natural feel, and ensures an authentically pleasant interior climate.
All in all, the materials concept for the MINI Vision Urbanaut
highlights the extremely high levels of visual and haptic quality that
a sustainably designed interior can offer.
An experience for all the senses.
The MINI Vision Urbanaut covers all sensory angles in creating the
perfect on-board experience. A key element of the interior design is
therefore a carefully honed approach to fragrance and sound. “The
holistic approach addressing all the senses creates a truly unique and
unforgettable experience,” explains Annabell Coffinet, Fragrance
Designer at the BMW Group. “A distinctive fragrance signature sticks
in the mind and can remind you of a positive atmosphere and overall
experience. In this way, we are creating another, very personal
connection with particularly memorable times. We also wanted to link
the MINI brand identity with a fragrance signature for the first time.
This waft of something intangible, refreshing and unexpected brings
emotion to how the brand’s message is communicated, a kind of
international signature with a high recognisability factor. It will be
discreet and revealed as part of a welcome scenario.” Bringing balance
to the sensory experience, Renzo Vitale, Creative Director Sound,
gives the various textures of the welcome scenario fragrance an
audible form. As well as the welcome sound, he also composed the music
for the Chill, Vibe and Wanderlust moments. In the Chill moment, the
vehicle wraps the user in the subtle soundscapes of a forest, with
rustling leaves and flowing water filling the interior – a fitting
complement to the dimmable forest canopy effect. Acoustic sounds set
the seal on the relaxation-rich experience. The Wanderlust and Vibe
moments are accompanied by a soundtrack of specially composed music
which can be played both inside and outside the vehicle.
Analogue love, digital connection
Another aim with the MINI moments was to use digital integration to
intensify or enrich the analogue experience. This “analogue love,
digital connection” approach runs throughout the vehicle. Indeed, an
additional digital level has been integrated below several of the
analogue surfaces. Examples here include the table inside the vehicle
(which initiates the MINI moments when the MINI Token is placed in one
of the slots), the lamp with OLED display and the LED matrixes in the
interior under a layer of textile or in the front and rear ends of the
car. These areas of the vehicle bring together the analogue and
digital worlds into a new and immersive experience. And all of this
can now be experienced in a real-life vehicle, thanks to the work of
the BMW Group’s modellers.
Bringing together the BMW Group’s model-building expertise.
As an innovative space concept, the MINI Vision Urbanaut was designed
from the inside out. The designers created the spacious interior
experience before developing the exterior, using floor plans, pieces
of furniture plus wooden scale models to provide an indication of
size. Over the course of the project, augmented reality was employed
to create a digital model, which was then systematically optimised.
The physical model of the MINI Vision Urbanaut was then put together
from start to finish at the MINI Design studio in Munich. Here, the
BMW Group gathered all the expertise available to transform virtual
visions into physical reality. Upholsterers, modellers, mechatronics
engineers, programmers, paint specialists and others worked alongside
the designers to turn a vision into a physical model of almost
prototype quality. After all, the MINI Vision Urbanaut is not a static
model, but a driveable and steerable one. Every part has been
specially designed, precision-manufactured using cutting-edge tools
and crafted by hand. The high degree of artistry inside the MINI
Vision Urbanaut is highlighted by an interior design that is
reminiscent of a modern living space. The construction of the model
therefore extended from a classical vehicle build via furniture-making
all the way to programming and smart high-tech integration.