Opinion

'Autonomous cars will be ready long before our roads are'

With autonomous cars fast approaching, the laws to govern them are still some way off, says Steve Fowler

Ian Robertson discusses BMW's autonomous future

If there’s one person worth listening to on the subject of technology, it’s BMW’s British board member (and Auto Express Brit List winner) Ian Robertson. Having launched BMW’s i brand to establish his company at the forefront of electric car tech – which is now paying off handsomely – he’s now at the forefront of BMW’s autonomous push.

“We’re building a big resource base in-house to take this forward,” Robertson told us. “We’re building a new campus in Munich and in the second half of this year we’ll put forty 7 Series on the road with the autonomous next steps on board. Over the next four-and-a-bit years we’ll develop the tech and that will be delivered within the next i car.”

• Everything you need to know about driverless cars

Another big step was the acquisition of Here from Nokia (with Daimler and Volkswagen). “That’s moving quickly,” continued Robertson.

“The reason we did it was to get 20 million vehicles that could give us real-time software updatability. Mapping today is accurate to 6-10 metres – for autonomous driving we need 6-10cm.”

“We’ve got systems that are developing the predictability of traffic lights, so it will slow the car as it knows the traffic light is changing so you don’t stop before you get going again. It’s using traffic flow, navigation data and cars communicating where they are and how fast they’re moving.”

So the cars are ready, but what about legislation? “We want legislation and technology running in parallel, and I’m not seeing that,” admitted Robertson. “The discussion needs to be open and there; at the moment it’s fragmented.”

That’s a worry. Robertson reckons we could end up with cars allowed to drive autonomously in some towns and cities and on some roads, not others – in the same country! Let’s hope governments don’t allow that to happen.

Are you excited about the future of autonomy, or are you dreading the day drivers make way for computers? Leave us your thoughts below...

Recommended

New 2021 BMW iX electric SUV revealed with 376-mile range
BMW

New 2021 BMW iX electric SUV revealed with 376-mile range

The all-electric flagship BMW iX SUV boasts over 500bhp, 376 miles of range and 5G tech
11 Nov 2020
New BMW i4 set to lead charge of six new electric cars
BMW

New BMW i4 set to lead charge of six new electric cars

The new all-electric BMW i4 is set to boast a range of around 373 miles and our exclusive images preview how it could look
6 Nov 2020
BMW adds Android Auto to 750k cars in huge iDrive software update
News

BMW adds Android Auto to 750k cars in huge iDrive software update

BMW is installing the latest OS 7 operating system to its iDrive infotainment systems over-the-air, bringing new functionality to three quarters of a …
16 Oct 2020
BMW recalls multiple plug-in hybrid models
Hybrid cars

BMW recalls multiple plug-in hybrid models

BMW’s engineers have identified a problem with PHEV battery packs, which could result in a short circuit and potentially cause a fire
15 Oct 2020

Most Popular

Best mini jump starter packs 2020
Best jumper starter packs header
Product group tests

Best mini jump starter packs 2020

Don’t get caught out with a dodgy battery as we test eight of the best jump starter packs
18 Nov 2020
Best small 4x4s to buy 2020/2021
Dacia Duster ford
Best cars & vans

Best small 4x4s to buy 2020/2021

Need 4x4 capability without big SUV fuel bills? Take a look our top 10 small 4x4s instead
27 Nov 2020
New Audi Q3 45 TFSI e plug-in hybrid joins the range
Audi Q3

New Audi Q3 45 TFSI e plug-in hybrid joins the range

Audi has launched a new PHEV version of the Q3 SUV, sporting the same 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid powertrain as the Volkswagen Golf GTE
4 Dec 2020