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Steering wheels and holograms for all in BMWs of the future

Annette Baumeister is very excited about the potential uses of hologram technology in cars.

As a director of BMW's future-focused Designworks division, Annette Baumeister, knows more than most about what the cars of tomorrow will look and feel like, and she says the innovation she's most excited about is moveable steering wheels.

"I think, for a while at least, the interior of autonomous vehicles will still be focused on the driver in the traditional way, because they'll still have to take over the driving sometimes, or maybe they will just ask their passenger to do it," Baumeister told CarsGuide during a visit to Sydney yesterday.

"I love this concept of a car where the steering wheel can disappear when you don't need it, and when you do, you can also just slide it from left to right, so either one of you can drive. It really is a fantastic system.

"I love this concept of a car where the steering wheel can disappear when you don't need it". "I love this concept of a car where the steering wheel can disappear when you don't need it".

Designworks in Shanghai has worked on the design of tractors for John Deere, new trains for various governments, including the Virgin Hyperloop in Dubai, and top-end white goods for Chinese giant Haier. Its clients also include Cartier, Huawei and Coca Cola.

And then there are those jobs that don't seem car-related at first, but turn out to be very much about the future of BMW products. Baumeister has worked on creating new first-class cabins for Singapore Airlines, for example.

"Making intelligent use of space is a Mini slogan, but it fits perfectly with what you're doing when you're designing a first class cabin," she explains.

"And if you look at business-class or first-class seats, that's very much what we're looking at with the future of autonomous-car interiors - because being driven around will be very much like flying business class.

"So it's about what can you do in that space, what do you need in there? And obviously at the moment that seems to be all about screens; more and more screens and bigger and bigger.

"The difference of course is that an airline seat is focused just on one person while a car is about several people."

Baumeister is also very excited about the potential uses of hologram technology in cars, which BMW has already shown off in a concept car at CES.

Baumeister has also worked on creating new first-class cabins for Singapore Airlines. Baumeister has also worked on creating new first-class cabins for Singapore Airlines.

While the system so far allows for holographic screens that allow you to operate functions without ever actually dirtying your hands by touching a surface, the future could be far more impressive.

"There's a lot of exciting things we're looking at with holograms in your vehicle, right up to the point of having one as your personal assistant," she says.

I can see her now, floating there and inviting you to ask: "Help me BMW, you're my only hope."

Sit back or take the wheel? Give us your take on autonomous cars in the comments section below.