BMW Doesn't Think You Can Handle Autonomous Cars

Technology

Which is probably true.

BMW has revealed more about its plans to make cars smarter, but not necessarily fully autonomous. According to BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer who spoke at the company’s FIZ Research and Development center near Munich, full autonomy is still a long way off. Schwarzenbauer said that BMW’s upcoming models will be connected to a vast cloud network of real-time safety and driving information but won’t be driving themselves fully.

He said the company’s cars will soon be capable of Level 3 autonomy in which the car can manage itself in slow-moving traffic under the supervision of the driver, but Schwarzenbauer believes that society isn’t quite ready for autonomy despite what the internet says. According to Autocar, Schwarzenbauer rhetorically asked: "Will society accept this? I don’t believe society is ready to hand over responsibility for its life to a machine. We will go step by step. Level 3 will probably be acceptable, but anything further than that will take a lot of time." The company believes that highly detailed live driving information will better appeal to today’s more 'hands-on' drivers.

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The company plans to use a significant amount of real-time data generated by the cameras and sensors fitted to BMW's new crop of connected cars in order to provide detailed information on local weather conditions, hazards, and live traffic information. Already the 700,000 cloud-connected BMW cars generate 250 million data ‘requests’ per day. BMW then analyzes this anonymous information before processing it and sending it back out to the cloud for the cars to make use of. Mercedes and Audi's vehicles also feed into the data stream as part of the open-platform HERE mapping system, which the German big three own together.

BMW also revealed it’s engineers are working with camera maker Mobileye on an AI that would give a windshield mounted camera the ability to identify and anticipate the trajectory of approaching vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

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