For the past nine years, the Los Angeles auto show has hosted a design competition for designers from the world's major automakers. Each year the show asks for visionary concepts around the topic of individual mobility in different areas, giving the designers freedom to engage in flights of fancy.
For 2012 the challenge for the design teams was to create the ultimate 2025 highway patrol vehicle, based on a set of criteria that included: future needs for advanced technology; speed and agility on future freeway systems; creativity of the solution; and meeting a specific region's emission standards and environmental sensibility (including maintenance and recyclability).
BMW's DesignworksUSA subsidiary came up with the ePatrol Vision – a futuristic L.A. patrol car that incorporates a modular structure and drone technology.
The main structure can deploy three drones. The top drone sits above the main structure and is a flying drone, while the other two are one wheel vehicles attached to the rear.
In the case of a pursuit during heavy traffic areas, the patrol officer sitting in the two passenger main structure can deploy either the flying drone or one of the single wheel drones to chase the suspect and report back data to the main structure.
When all drones are deployed, the main structure can continue to function. All drones have added protection benefits in that they can send an impulse to another vehicle and disable it.
Throughout the exterior design, the team strived to create a powerful stance with an aerodynamic aesthetic and flowing lines.
"DesignworksUSA`s role as a think tank is to challenge the status quo of existing product solutions", says Laurenz Schaffer, president of DesignworksUSA.
The ePatrol Vision is a concept with no links to BMW´s future design strategy, he explains. "We took the liberty to think out of the box. To emphasize the conceptual approach our design is independent from BMW design elements and known visual cues but looks at new product typologies and fresh ideas on shapes."
The interior design was inspired by a woven structure made of aluminum wire inside carbon fibre and polymer resin. All interfaces within the interior are touch screen.
For greater protection to the patrol officers, windows are not included in the vehicle. The windshield is replaced with a large screen that on the exterior can communicate critical information such as accidents or route information to other drivers.
On the interior, the large screen acts as a monitor on which data from the drones can be displayed.
It's out there!