When does an e-bike officially become a moped? E-bike legislation is a tricksy, knotty thing. BMW’s view is that the complexities are best addressed through the bike’s own software.
BMW has coined the term ‘AMBY’ to mean “adaptive mobility” and announced two concept vehicles – the BMW i Vision AMBY and the BMW Motorrad Vision AMBY – to illustrate its ideas.
The i Vision AMBY is a high-speed pedelec and the Motorrad Vision AMBY more of a moped/motorbike. The exact labelling is kind of besides the point though because both use geofencing technology to detect where they are enabling them to automatically choose between different maximum speed levels.
The drive system of the i Vision AMBY allows speeds of up to 25km/h (15.5 mph) on cycle tracks, up to 45km/h (28 mph) on city-centre roads and up to 60km/h (37 mph) on multi-lane roads and outside urban areas.
The same vehicle therefore moves from being an e-bike to an S-pedelec and on from there into something that is basically an electric motorcycle. The Motorrad Vision AMBY is much the same thing, only it’s a bit heftier and doesn’t have pedals.
You’d need insurance, plates and all the rest for the higher speeds, obviously. Users would load their licence classes and apply the required level of insurance cover through a smartphone app linked to the bike.
Manual selection of the different modes would be possible, but BMW’s idea centres on automatic recognition of location and road type via geofencing technology.
BMW says that in the absence of any existing legal framework for a vehicle of this kind, the AMBY vehicles have been set out to prompt the introduction of such legislation and by consequence further developments along similar lines.
“Everywhere you look, apparently established categories are being blown apart,” said Werner Haumayr, Vice President BMW Group Design Conception. “And that’s a good thing.
“In the future, classifications such as ‘car’, ‘bicycle’ and ‘motorcycle’ should not determine the nature of the products we think up, develop and offer. Rather, this paradigm shift gives us the opportunity to tailor products to people’s lifestyles – as we can see with the BMW i Vision AMBY high-speed pedelec.
“This vehicle occupies the space between a bicycle and a light motorcycle and allows our customers to decide for themselves which roads or routes they want to travel on through an urban area. They have all the flexibility possible, at the same time as turning the pedals and keeping themselves fit.
“The modes and clever route selection are intended to make it one of the fastest travel options through a city.”