BMW Subsidiary Designworks Teams Up With… John Deere?
Fixstern “Backhoe of the Future” Uses Advanced Materials
Known most for its sports cars and luxury sedans, German automaker BMW is getting into the tractor business. Well, not quite.
However, BMW subsidiary Designworks did team up with John Deere to create an augmented virtual reality experience centered on the “backhoe of the future.” Called the John Deere Fixstern Backhoe concept, it uses advanced materials, a hybrid powertrain, and consumer-suggested improvements to bring the work implement into the 21st (or 22nd) century.
Named for a BMW Group design ethos advocating for forward thinking, the Fixstern concept theoretically could be built from unspecified—and eco-friendly—materials, possibly soy- or corn-based plastics. Those materials, combined with the Fixstern Backhoe’s metal-matrix exoskeleton and hybrid powertrain, would help the concept achieve its design goal of a 20-percent weight reduction compared to similar, more conventional backhoes.
That aforementioned hybrid powertrain would also lower the machine’s center of gravity, improving control and safety. Forward stabilizers extend the wheelbase, which is bookended by lightweight, airless tires. Within the wheelbase is a larger operator station, optimized with larger openings and smaller obstructions for better entry, exit, and in-cab visibility. The seat and controls are separate from the structural rollover protection, enhancing comfort for the operator. Four-wheel steering improves maneuverability.
As expected from any modern concept, the Fixstern Backhoe comes with an extensive array of connectivity features. Augmented interfaces improve productivity, while communication apps facilitate contact between the operator and a project supervisor or boss.
Admittedly, the John Deere Fixstern Concept isn’t a reality yet. But based on the renderings provided by Designworks, if it ever makes it to production, it will give construction sites a modern, sleek, technical feel.