BMW Rolls Into CES With AirTouch-Equipped And Autonomous i8 Spyder Concept

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BMW first revealed the Spyder version of the i8 plug-in hybrid way back in March 2012. While the coupe version of the i8 is now available for purchase in the United States, we’ve yet to see a production of the Spyder come to life. BMW is at CES this week with another vehicle based on the BMW i8 Concept Spyder: the i Vision Future Interaction Concept.

Rather than use that big, convoluted name, I’m just going to refer to the vehicle as the i8 Spyder Concept from here on out. This new i8 Spyder Concept carries over largely the same styling theme as its predecessor, but instead ditches the doors — that’s not exactly practical for production. As we previously speculated, the i8 Spyder Concept is a rolling showcase for BMW’s recently announced AirTouch technology, which allows you to adjust vehicle controls using hand gestures and an outstretched arm.

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The interior is dominated by a massive 21-inch display which takes up residence on the passenger side of the dashboard. When combined with AirTouch, this gives both the driver and the passenger a new way to interact with various vehicle interfaces. It remains to be seen if such a high-tech and unorthodox way of adjusting vehicle controls is any safer (or better) than just pushing a button or adjusting a knob, but we’d definitely like to try it out in person before making a rushed judgment. Other interior features include a heads up display and a three-dimensional instrument cluster for the driver.

The i8 Spyder Concept even incorporates autonomous driving functionality which can be enabled with a switch next to the steering wheel. In this mode, the steering wheel retracts slightly to give the “driver” more space and the seats even change shape to fit a more “lounge profile”, angling the driver more towards the 21-inch display.

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“The objective is to enable drivers to make relaxed and effective use of the freedoms offered by highly automated driving,” BMW explains. “and when drivers want to take the wheel themselves and enjoy sporty driving fun, the ideal enablers typical of BMW are provided in the ergonomic design of the seat and steering wheel.”

It’s nice that BMW is adding all of this technology to the i8 Spyder Concept, and we definitely won’t poo-poo the expanded use of technology. However, we just wish that BMW would stop showing us concept and give us the production version… PRONTO!