BMW is currently going through a deep change, moving away from the traditional ‘automaker’ label and turning into a ‘technology company’. That implies applying the ACES strategy which demands innovative approaches in all fields, including manufacturing. A holistic approach is therefore needed and today the Germans announced yet another step in the right direction by introducing the Personal Mover Concept.
According to BMW, the Personal Mover Concept is an electric one-person means of transport for covering short distances within an operating site. Employees at BMW Group plants and logistics centers sometimes cover up to 12 kilometers per day on foot – and having to carry small parts and work materials often makes it even harder. Sites such as the BMW Group Research and Innovation Center in Munich or the BMW Group plants in Dingolfing and Spartanburg are sprawling campuses, where many employees have to cover huge distances to do their jobs.
Experts from the BMW Group Research and Technology House in Garching took up this challenge, together with the staff who run the BMW Group’s central after sales logistics network at the Dingolfing location. Employees at various sites were surveyed on a random basis and their needs recorded. Environment analyses were conducted in parallel and the legal framework, such as site safety guidelines, taken into account.
The findings provided a relatively demanding profile of requirements for the mobility solution. Richard Kamissek, head of the Operations Central Aftersales Logistics Network department, sums up: “It had to be flexible, easy to maneuver, zippy, electric, extremely agile and tilt-proof – and, at the same time, suitable for carrying objects. The Personal Mover Concept can do all of this – and is also fun to drive. We hope to start using it as soon as possible!”
The body platform of the Personal Mover Concept is 60 centimeters wide and 80 centimeters long, so that a person can stand comfortably on it and still have room for larger, heavy objects. Two wheels at the rear corners of the platform and two support wheels at the front ensure that it does not tip over, even in tight bends. The two front support wheels rotate 360°, which greatly increases maneuverability. The handlebar and drive wheel are sunk into the middle of the body platform at the front.
The handlebar contains the entire electrical system, the battery and the drive wheel, and can be rotated 90° to the left and right, allowing the Personal Mover Concept to turn on the spot. A thumb throttle for regulating speed is integrated into the right grip. This control is used to start the Personal Mover Concept, switch the light on and off, select the driving mode or check battery status. For safety, there is also a bell for warning other employees. The left grip operates the brake and a dead man’s control.
If not accelerating, the Personal Mover Concept recuperates in a similar manner to the BMW i3, by feeding released braking energy back into the battery. The electric drive accelerates up to a maximum of 25 km/h – so it not only moves fast, it is also fun to ride. The installed cells guarantee a range of about 20-30 kilometers. The Personal Mover Concept is charged from a regular household socket using a power adapter.
It would also be conceivable for the Personal Mover Concept to be used outside of BMW Group locations. Initial discussions with operators of airports, exhibition centers and major shopping centers have shown that it could also be an attractive solution for applications of that kind. Who knows, maybe we’ll see it in shopping malls around the world in a couple of years but until then you can check it out in the gallery below.