Latest autonomous driving technology from BMW pushes the dynamic limits - without a scrap of driver input
7 January 2014

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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7 January 2014
Sci fi movies of the past are starting to become a reality.

7 January 2014
Further down the line, what will happen with liability once we see more and more of these autonomous systems on road going vehicles? Are drivers going to be happy that they're penalised on their insurance for collisions, when the vehicle is supposed to look after itself? Or will manufacturers take responsibility for bumps when their systems don't perform as they should? Or maybe there just won't be any collisions any more....

7 January 2014
Autonomous systems seem to work well in controlled tests in good weather.

Will they cope with driving on single-track lanes? Or will the car just refuse to proceed when faced with a vehicle coming the other way? Finding a suitable passing place is not always easy and will it be able to reverse to a suitable place further back?

Will they cope with ice, mud, snow or oily patches?

How will they deal with floods?

Will they be smart enough to slow down for horses, dogs and small children when they are on the road?

In my opinion these and many other questions need to be addressed and dealt with before they can be considered truly safe for the road.


I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

7 January 2014
Hasn't Ferrari done something simular.........?

Peter Cavellini.

7 January 2014
It's just BMW's way of showing they are ahead of the competition in driving pleasure even when it comes to car tech. Others can drive from A to B while BMW can also drift :)


7 January 2014
..............get banned for 12 months yesterday for driving hands free on the A171 at 65mph.

Not a good idea!! :-)

7 January 2014
As some one who gets motion sick in a flash this would be an unwanted extra. I always volunteer to drive as its often the only way to prevent a mess. Just watching that BMW steer itself makes me feel dizzy.

7 January 2014
With modern steering systems, is there any reason why the steering wheel has to move when the car is driving itself?

8 January 2014
Sid Slim wrote:

With modern steering systems, is there any reason why the steering wheel has to move when the car is driving itself?

Despite the electric assistance doesn't there have to be a mechanical connection to the steering by law? Or did I make that up..?

7 January 2014
A very interesting article.

One gripe.

Straightaway = immediately, and not; straight road.


28bhp never felt so fast



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