Currently reading: BMW presents world's first self-drifting car
Latest autonomous driving technology from BMW pushes the dynamic limits - without a scrap of driver input

BMW has altered the face of performance car driving with the unveiling of a new autonomous driving system that allows the driver to go hands off – not only in a straight line, but also in extreme situations, including wild oversteer drifts around a race track.

Demonstrated on a prototype version of the soon-to-be-introduced M235i coupé at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the sidelines of this week’s CES event, the new system has been developed by BMW’s forward-thinking Technik division in Munich, Germany as part of an on-going program that aims to make selected future models fully autonomous by the end of the decade.

It's a crucial deadline, as that's when vital juristic changes to road worthiness laws across the globe are expected to allow such technology to be introduced to regular production cars.

Touting state-of-the-art computer processing and the sort of GPS technology used in the latest guided-missile systems, BMW’s latest autonomous driving-assistant system actively takes part in the driving process, operating the accelerator, steering and brakes fully independent of the driver, who if free to sit back or attend to other chores, even during tail out cornering and smoke-inducing burnouts.

With new ultra-sonic radar and 360-degree stereo camera technology, BMW’s autonomous driving assistant is also intelligent enough to change lanes to overtake slower vehicles and then pull back in when the manoeuvre is completed – all without any prompting or action on the part of the physical driver. With special programing, BMW’s latest autonomous driving assistant will even show you the optimal line around a race track, accelerating hard down straights and lining up corner apexes perfectly.

Despite the obvious promise of the new system, which has already undergone over 9000 miles of testing on roads around BMW’s headquarters in Munich, officials involved in its development say current road worthiness laws prohibit many of the features being brought into production.

“It is going to take a combined effort with all key players and definitive juristic changes before the safety benefits of autonomous driving can be realised,” says BMW. 

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caddy06 8 January 2014

BMW drifting

The issues with autonomous cars are not ultimately technical, they are legal/social.

The good news ( in principle) is that young people and teh very blind will be able to use a car whereas they cannot today.

So in California, where legistlation for autonomous cars is being written a blind person from the UK will be able to arrive in LAX, be escorted to the Hertz desk and be put in a car which will take him/her anywhere they want in California.

Similarly mums wlil no longer be trapped by the scholl run pre-work but can just tell the car to take their 8 year old safely into the school grounds each day.

Both those scenarios have huge legal / social implications which will need addressing before such cars can be let loose.

The final "test of logic" is indeed insurance - as it can't crash why would you need insurance?

Lover of cars 7 January 2014

Nothing new...

....this ability to drift by itself, or at least lead from the back, used to be a standard feature of BMWs prior to the E36!
pitfield 7 January 2014


A very interesting article.

One gripe.

Straightaway = immediately, and not; straight road.