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LA show: BMW goes on ePatrol

Vision 2025: BMW’s US design team claims to have been inspired by “the partnership between a patrol officer and their canine” with its wild ePatrol sketches.

It looks like science fiction but the BMW ePatrol could be the cop car of the future

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BMW logo22 Nov 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

BMW AG has given artists at its DesignWorks USA studio free rein to pen the police pursuit car of the future as part of the Los Angeles Design Challenge.

Dubbed the ePatrol, the resulting sketches look like something straight out of science fiction, but BMW claims the design could be indicative of the “ultimate 2025 highway patrol vehicle” for LA.

The law enforcement theme of this year’s design contest – which will feature an array of participants including BMW’s arch-nemesis Mercedes-Benz – called on DesignWorks staff to gaze into their crystal balls to determine future needs for advanced technology.

Criteria included meeting the increased speed and agility needed for the “clogged” highways of the future and meeting California’s strict emissions regulations.

To be showcased in sketch form at the LA motor show next week, the ePatrol features a fixed central structure that can deploy a trio of flying or two-wheeled drones and a vast array of cabin technology reminiscent of something from a Hollywood feature film.

Perched atop the modular central structure is a small robotic flying drone that can disconnect from the main body and zoom ahead to pursue a target. On each side of the central body is also affixed a removable one-wheeled land drone, ideal for threading through heavy traffic.

Each of the three drones can be deployed from the two-person cabin to chase a suspect, and can return and report information to the central structure – which can still function even when all three drones have been cast-off thanks to a far-fetched ‘levitation turbine’ under the rear bumper.

All drones have enhanced protection thanks to a bulletproof casing and can go on the attack by firing an electro-magnetic pulse at another vehicle in order to disable it.

The main control cabin is constructed of a woven substance incorporating aluminium wire inside carbon-fibre and polymer resin, and features an array of touch-screens that can display various information to the occupants, or project data to other squad cars or police helicopters.

BMW is keeping hush on machanical details, but the sketches refer to a ‘skin energy recovery system’ that utilises special body panels to harness heat from the highway concrete and funnel it back into the power source.

President of DesignworksUSA Laurenz Schaffer said the design fitted the studio’s bill to “challenge the status quo”.

“We wanted to present a visionary impulse to the theme of highway patrol,” he said, “hence our contribution to the LA Design Challenge is a vision concept with no links to BMW´s future design strategy.

“We took the liberty to think out of the box. To emphasise 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.”

BMW took a wildly different approach to the LA Design Challenge brief to its counterparts at the Mercedes-Benz US design centre in Carlsbad, California, whose Ener-G-Force off-roader concept has actually been turned into a 1:1 scale concept for the LA motor show stand.

As we reported this week, the Ener-G-Force is pitched as both a future squad car and a glimpse at its next G-Class hardcore off-roader, and utilises a prototype hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain featuring four wheel-mounted motors fed by water tanks on the roof.

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