Currently reading: BMWs will be intelligent, but full autonomy is a long way off, says board member
Although the German brand has plans to make its cars more intelligent in the future, it still believes we're still a way off full autonomy

BMW has revealed more of its plans to make its cars more intelligent, but full autonomy is still some way off, according to board member Peter Schwarzenbauer.

Speaking at the company’s FIZ Research and Development centre near Munich, Schwarzenbauer said that while BMW’s upcoming models - which will be connected to a vast cloud network of real-time safety and driving information - will be capable of Level 3 autonomy (where the car can take over in certain circumstances, such as in slow-moving motorway traffic, but the driver has to be ready to regain control), he believes that "society might not yet be ready" for self-driving vehicles.

"Will society accept this? I don’t believe society is ready to hand over responsibility for its life to a machine. We will go step by step. Level 3 will probably be acceptable, but anything further than that will take a lot of time" said Schwarzenbauer, who is responsible for the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands.

In the near future, however, BMW is betting that highly detailed live driving information that will appeal to today’s more 'hands-on' drivers.

A significant amount of real-time data is generated by the cameras and sensors fitted to BMW's connected cars, allowing the compilation of detailed information on local weather conditions, hazard information - such as ice on the road - and live traffic information.

There are currently around 250 million ‘requests’ per day generated by the 700,000 cloud-connected BMW cars already on the roads.

This information is collated and anonymised by BMW’s own ‘back-end’ server and then sent back down from the cloud to other connected BMWs.

Even more live information is added by similarly connected Mercedes and Audi vehicles, all of which feed into the open-platform HERE mapping system, which is owned by the German big three.

It's this currently unrivalled live information, along with super-accurate lidar mapping (which is updated in real-time), that could give the trio a significant lead in fully autonomous driving, whenever that is judged ready for the market.

In any case, BMW engineers say it's connected cars that will be significantly safer, thanks to the level of driver information about the route ahead.  This is already provided by more than 2 million vehicles – a figure that will increase exponentially.

BMW engineers are also working with specialist camera maker Mobileye on an artificial intelligence programme that allows the windscreen-mounted camera and associated software to identify approaching vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in milliseconds, as well as anticipating the likely trajectory of the vehicles travelling in front.

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Fiesta XR2 19 April 2018


Personally I’m all for full autonomy. The drive to work is one long traffic jam these days so there’s no joy to be had in that drive. I’d be quite happy to let the car handle the tedium while I either have a kip on the backseat or watch Netflix. 

Peter Cavellini 19 April 2018

Not in my life time......

 Full autonomy just isn’t viable, as has been said drivers aren’t ready for it for various reasons, trust, letting a box of circuits make the decisions would take getting used to, then there’s the life or death moment Lampost or Child...?, yes full autonomy would make long Car journeys less of a chore you could watch Tv, chat to your friends in Car or on a screen in FaceTime, these things would seem totally Alien to us us and that’s the point, we’re not ready for it, so that’s why I think full autonomy won’t happen in what’s left of my driving time which I reckon is about another decade.

tuga 19 April 2018


Good thing they'll be smarter, they really can't rely on looks as of late, can they?