Mini presents Vision Urbanaut in reality
With the Mini Vision Urbanaut virtual vision vehicle presentation in November 2020, the Mini brand revealed a new interpretation of mobility. Now the BMW Group is set to unveil a physical model of the vehicle. 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, Mini CEO.
“It brings the user’s personal space into the car and opens up various possibilities for him, 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,” Körber adds.
Make it physical
Oliver Heilmer, Head of Mini Design, says: “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 essential for us from the outset to make a physical model of the 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 Vision Urbanaut at our Design Studio in Munich.“
The Mini moments
Mini sees its future primarily as an enabler of and companion for unforgettable times, what they’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 traveling and others when you’re not.
These Mini moments are called ‘Chill’, ‘Wanderlust’, and ‘Vibe’. The exterior and interior of the vehicle change to reflect the Mini moment at hand and give the onboard experience the best possible stage and spatial environment. These are accentuated by fragrance, sound, and ambient lighting.
With the Chill moment, the car becomes a kind of retreat, a haven where you can relax or work with full concentration. The circular instrument folds down to become a table lamp while the rear seat bench (Cosy Corner) invites various seating and lying positions.
Wanderlust is the moment where the Vision Urbanaut is being driven or driving with automated driving functions. It wants to enable those on board to rediscover the romance of travel. So when the customer wants to drive himself, a finger tap on the Mini logo brings out the steering wheel and pedals. The user interface on the central circular instrument also adapts its visuals.
The Vibe moment puts time with other people at center stage. 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 center. An animation of graphic equalizers moving with the music is projected onto all surfaces creating a club atmosphere.
Last but not least, there is the fourth option, the customizable ‘my moment’, which provides users with further scope for tailoring the vehicle’s design to their needs and desires.
The Vision Urbanaut also focuses on sustainability. The starting point is to offer maximum space on the smallest possible footprint. In addition, the electric drive system ensures locally emission-free mobility. And another aspect is the scope for using the vehicle for purposes beyond actual mobility as a sort of urban space.
This special Mini also sets out to use resources responsibly. The team focused on consistently reducing the number of components and avoiding unnecessary use of materials. Maximizing the length of use by ensuring materials can be replaced is also a priority.
The 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.
The interior 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 coziness and quality with softness and comfort. The designers paid extra attention to so-called ‘mono materials’. These are easy to recycle further down the line and can be turned into new products.
Analog and digital
The Mini Vision Urbanaut tries to cover all sensory angles in creating the perfect onboard experience. A key element of interior design is, therefore, a carefully honed approach to fragrance and sound.
Another aim was to use digital integration to intensify or enrich the analog experience. This “analog love, digital connection” approach runs throughout the vehicle. Indeed, an additional digital level has been integrated below several of the analog surfaces. These areas of the vehicle bring together the analog and digital worlds into a new and immersive experience.
From the inside out
As an innovative space concept, the Vision Urbanaut was designed from the inside out. The designers created the spacious interior experience before developing the exterior, using floor plans, furniture, and wooden scale models to indicate size.
Over the course of the project, augmented reality was employed to create a digital model, which was then systematically optimized. The physical model of the 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 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.