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BMW spills on next-gen cupholders

BMW’s gyroscopic cupholders debuted in its forward-facing M Vision Next concept.

The world already has cupholders that are adjustable, refrigerated and heated, but BMW’s new gyroscopic cupholder technology will also keep the drink in its container and not on your pants.

That’s right, the company that became the first to heat and cool your drinks – now available in X3, X5 and X7 – has invented a cupholder that will prevent any spillage by operating like the gyroscopes that cleverly keep the cameras on drones always pointing in the right direction.

The ‘gyro-cupter’, as it might be called, is just one of the trick new bits of tech BMW has attached to its Vision M Next, which also showcases memory-foam seats and an augmented-reality system that can, among other things, project a line on the road in front of you, outlining the best way to apex the bend you’re approaching.

The outrageously futuristic-looking M Vision Next, with its glowing grille, Thrilling Orange paint work and a styling treatment said to be a callback to BMW’s M1 is, according to its designer Jose Alberto Casas Peña, the antidote to all this talk we’re hearing about autonomous cars.

“This is actually how an electric sports car could look like for the BMW M brand and it’s the opposite of an autonomous car, it’s all about the ultimate driving experience, it’s focused on allowing you to be the ultimate driver,” he said.

While the car’s ‘Boost+ Mode’, a kind of push-to-pass option stolen from Formula E racing, sounds exciting, it was the gyroscopic cupholders that everyone wanted to know about.

“Basically, you put your cup in there and if it feels the car turning, the cupholder pushes it the other way, so the drink doesn’t spill and mess up your beautiful interior,” Mr Peña explains.

The car’s memory-foam seats “which adapt to your body exactly for maximum comfort and to support your back and legs” sound like something we’d like to see in production cars as soon as possible, although Mr Peña couldn’t say how far off that is.

The augmented-reality system sounds a lot closer to production, however, as it piggybacks, and improves on, head-up display technology we already have.

“The augmented reality can show you your heart rate, and tell you when it’s okay to press the Boost button for maximum power, basically it’s there to help you when you’re going 250km/h,” Mr Peña added.

“The faster the car goes, you have to be more focused, so the augmented display will be the one you use when you are going the fastest.

“It also helps you to find the ideal cornering line, it will project that on the road for you. It is technology to support you to become the ultimate driver.”

BMW has already hinted heavily that a hybrid M car is coming soon, but is it really likely to look as outrageous as the M Vision Next? We can only hope.

“For now it’s just a design study where we can predict how an electrified version of a car from the M brand could look, but you’ve seen in the past, the i8 for example, and the i3 concept cars, they were maybe 80 per cent of what the final car looked like,” Mr Peña teased.

“That’s something that’s very cool about the BMW brand, we always try to get as much as we can from our concept cars into production.”

Let’s hope the gyroscopic cupholders make it to production, at least.