According to BMW’s research, cities continue to grow larger as more and more people embrace an urban way of life. As a result, cities are getting more crowded with both pedestrians and automobiles.

One of the biggest challenges in future urban mobility, then, is finding harmony between pedestrians, traffic and other methods of transportation. BMW is doing what it can to be proactive, joining 29 other partners in what’s being called the UR:BAN project.

While the acronym doesn’t translate directly into English, in German it means “Urban space: user-oriented assistance systems and network management,” which is hard to make sexy in any language. The project seeks to develop new traffic management and driver assistance systems, with a focus on the human element of the equation.

The UR:BAN project actually has three subsets, united with a common goal of  improving safety. Under the project banner is “Cognitive Assistance,” “Networked Traffic Systems” and “The Human Element In Traffic,” and BMW will be contributing to all three efforts.

Cognitive Assistance will center on the use of driver assistance aids such as pedestrian detection systems and night vision systems, while Networked Traffic Systems will center on optimizing traffic efficiency in urban environments.

Finally, The Human Element In Traffic will look to increase vehicle controllability while attempting to predict driver and pedestrian behavior. If much of this sounds like the stuff of science fiction, we’re pretty sure that what in-car navigation looked like thirty years ago, too.