The future of driving is autonomous.
Mobility is undergoing a transformation unlike anything we have seen before. At the BMW Group, this presents us with enormous challenges. We are meeting these head on with innovative technologies – but the safety of our customers always remains our top priority. We already offer driver assistance systems, such as speed, steering and lane control assistants. With these developments, we are on the threshold of highly-automated driving.
The cars of the future don't need rigid programmes; they need a kind of artificial intelligence that learns with every mile and takes the owner's habits into account.
Member of the Board of Management of the BMW Group, responsible for Development
Have you ever wondered?
Does this mean the end of "sheer driving pleasure"?
BMW will always stand for “sheer driving pleasure” – but we want to achieve it in many different ways. Depending on the situation, we want customers to be able to experience the pleasure of being driven, as well as the pleasure of driving. Today, drivers in urban areas across Germany spend an average of 30 hours a year stuck in traffic. Once the vehicle can drive itself, these people will be able to make much better use of this time: for example, for relaxation, working or reading.
What if the car causes an accident?
The overwhelming majority of road accidents are stilled caused by human error. However, the Level 1 and 2 vehicle assistance systems built into our current models can already prevent accidents. We expect further automation to drastically reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities. Nevertheless, the laws of driving physics still apply to autonomous vehicles, so it will never be possible to avoid critical situations altogether.
How much data does a 24-hour test drive generate?
A fully-autonomous vehicle produces 40 terabytes of data during a 24-hour test drive. If the BMW Group were to burn this data onto Blu-ray Dual Layer Discs, for example, it would need 800 per day. 20 years ago, when we still used floppy disks, it would have taken 27 million per day. The test drives would have come to an abrupt end, however, since the world’s annual global disk supply would have been exhausted after just 74 days by a single vehicle.
How does a car learn to see?
Highly- and fully-automated driving is not possible without sensors. Because to register all relevant aspects of the environment, vehicles need different kinds of sensors that work day and night, but also in any weather conditions. To achieve this, our test fleet is equipped with lidar, several cameras geared towards the front and back, and short and long-range radar sensors located all around the vehicle, as well as ultrasound sensors.
Why does the BMW Group have such good maps?
Highly accurate and real-time capable maps are essential for autonomous driving. The BMW Group acquired HERE with AUDI AG and Daimler AG back in 2015. Starting in the next decade, BMW Group vehicles will come with the very latest mapping technology: the HERE HD Live Map, which combines high-resolution map data with real-time information from other vehicles. In this way, cars and their drivers are able to see even farther than their vehicle sensors. The cards are an important component to make autonomous driving safe.
How can pedestrians understand autonomous vehicles?
In the future, autonomous vehicles will have to interact with people passing by. But how will this interaction work when there isn’t a driver behind the wheel?
Studies conducted so far show that the most important factor in smooth interaction between road users is the motion of the vehicle: What direction is it driving in and how fast it is going? Is it braking or accelerating? Motion is interaction! When an automated vehicle brakes early, in a way that is clearly perceptible, it signals to the pedestrian that it is safe for them to cross the road. The general principle is to make the driving strategy of our autonomous vehicles as human and unambiguous as possible, so key information can be relayed through driving behaviour.
In the InterACT research project, we are exploring whether additional light signals can make autonomous vehicles’ intentions easier to understand. Here, also, it appears that clear driving behaviour can ensure safe interaction between road users.
BMW Group Autonomous Driving Campus.
Short distances, quick decisions, agile talents.
Discover how we at the BMW Group are working towards the first self-driving car. Everything comes together at the BMW Group Autonomous Driving Campus, which was specially built for this purpose: Here, top talents from different areas of expertise find new work environments and new methods of working. The campus brings all development steps together in one place, so that software developers only have to walk a few steps to test the code they have just written in the vehicle right away.Learn more
The future in five steps.
It will still be a few years before series-production vehicles are capable of autonomous driving. The automotive industry categorises this development in five levels. This video shows you what they are and what stage we are currently at.
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