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.