BMW has changed the face of performance car driving with the unveiling of an advanced new autonomous driving assistant system.
The system allows the driver to go hands off – not only in a straight line at constant highway speeds as with existing systems but also in extreme situations, including tyre churning burnouts and wild drifts around a race track.
Demonstrated on a prototype version of the soon-to-be-introduced M235i Coupe at the Las Vegas Speedway on the sidelines of this week's Consumer Electronics Show, the advanced new system has been developed by BMW's forward-thinking Technik division in Munich, Germany. It is part of an ongoing program that aims to make selected future models fully autonomous by the end of the decade, when vital juristic changes to road laws across the globe are expected to allow such technology to be introduced to regular production cars.
Touting state of the art computing processes and GPS technology used in the latest guided missile systems, BMW's latest autonomous driving assistant system actively intervenes in the decision making process of driving, operating the accelerator, steering and brakes, in turn providing the scope to allow the driver to attend to other chores.
With new ultra sonic radar and 360 degree stereo camera technology, it 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 driver.
With special programming, 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 more than 15,000km of testing on roads around BMW's headquarters in Munich, officials involved in its development say current laws prohibit many of the features being brought into production.
''It is going to take a combined effort with all key players and key juristic changes before the safety, comfort and efficiency benefits of autonomous driving can be realised,'' says Werner Huber, head of BMW's Technik division.
-Fairfax News Australia