BMW reveals autonomous prototypes

7 Jan, 2014 9:40am Jonathan Burn

BMW has developed a fully autonomous 2 Series and 6 Series Gran Coupe, with advanced controls

BMW has joined the increasing number of manufacturers developing autonomous vehicles, with the German brand unveiling a BMW 2 Series and 6 Series Gran Coupe both fitted with autonomous driving technologies.

The prototypes will be revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas later this month.

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The new tech will sit under the BMW ActiveAssist banner, with the manufacturer claiming it will make a ‘significant contribution to bringing the vision of accident-free mobility another step closer to reality’.

As well as the vehicles being able to cruise along the motorway and city streets without any driver input, this advanced system will also control the car through demanding driving situations such as understeer and oversteer – again, without any driver input. BMW states, ‘Precise and reliable vehicle control at the dynamic limit is a central building block in the development of highly automated driving’.

Rigorous testing and development of these prototypes has enabled them to execute a precise slalom run between cones and even evade obstacles at speed, as well as controlling deliberate oversteer slides. The prototypes use a similar programmable electronic steering system – fitted as standard to BMW production cars – which makes these manoeuvres possible.

BMW began development on autonomous technology back in 2009 and by 2011 it launched its first test vehicle, which covered 40 miles along a multilane motorway in Germany. Since it’s first test, the test vehicle has now covered around 9,300 purely autonomous miles.

In 2015 BMW plans to roll out a fleet trial for ‘highly automated driving’ and by 2020 the manufacturer hopes to have laid the technical foundations for mass produced motorway-based autonomous vehicles. That does, however, depend on changes made to legislation in the Geneva Convention, which currently states that drivers should be in control of their vehicles at all times. 

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