future idrive
Innovation 12.03.2021 5 Min.
The control system of the future.

In the age of smart connectivity, how will driver and vehicle interact? That’s a question the BMW Group has been working on for years. Today we take a look at the capabilities the next generation control concept will need.


What capabilities will the control of future vehicles need? That’s the question the BMW Group’s development departments work on all the time. The solution they came up with 20 years ago was the BMW iDrive, which allowed the car to be controlled via a central dial and a single universal display. Not only was it ground-breaking at the time; it also turned out to have a lasting influence on the way we operate our cars, even now.

The future of mobility is digital. Vehicles are becoming smarter and smarter all the time and performing more and more tasks by themselves. They benefit from the "swarm intelligence" of the entire networked fleet and are able to automate more and more functions.  This development is inevitably changing the way we interact with our cars as well, and requires a rethinking of human-machine-interaction in vehicles. But what capabilities will it need?

The BMW Group envisages the vehicle playing an active role in communications with humans, becoming an intelligent, digital, proactive partner for the driver and passengers. The main interface between human and machine will be an improvement above and beyond mobility.

What should the operating system of the future be able to do?


In the future, interactions with the vehicle will become a multisensory experience for both driver and passengers. The car will appeal to multiple senses and be finely tuned to the individual concerned. The aim is for people to no longer need to operate certain functions themselves, but simply communicate their wishes and needs to the vehicle. It will then learn about their usage habits and draw on additional context information from the surrounding area to develop suggestions in real-time as to which functions to activate. All the driver has to do is respond.

One elementary pillar of natural operation in the future is voice control. The personal voice assistant, as a digital character, ensures a natural dialog with the driver and front passenger.  The assistant becomes a self-assured, reliable, capable companion.

The intelligent user experience of the future will also be highly customised and perfectly geared towards the needs of the driver and passengers using the car at any given time. It will recognise immediately who is travelling – by knowing the key, the smartphone or by logging in - and prepare the car as they like it, ready for the journey.

The modular and flexible operating system of the future will finally turn the automobile into a digital platform that is constantly evolving.

Sounds like science fiction? Well, at the BMW Group it’s science fact! In just a few days from now, the new BMW iDrive will be unveiled, ready to revolutionise human-vehicle interactions. For more on how developers’ visions are becoming real, and on the functions and services the new system will offer, check the BMW Group News here, on 15 March 2021.

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