CarBuzz sat down with BMW's Senior VP of Digital Experience to learn more about what the future holds.
BMW is going all-in with the AI user experience, evidenced by the just-revealed i Vision Dee concept at CES this week, and the man leading that mission assured us that the automaker won't force customers to become fully AI dependent.
Stephan Durach, the German automaker's Senior Vice President for Connected Development and the Digital Experience, told CarBuzz that BMW owners will always have the option to avoid using advanced AI systems, such as Dee (Digital Emotional Experience).
"If you don't want to talk to your car you don't have to," he said. "BMW will always have the latest technology and apps [but] there will always be different possibilities to interact with your product."
Durach refused to offer specifics regarding those "different possibilities" but he repeatedly stressed the importance of maintaining the Ultimate Driving Machine. BMW sees the overall AI user experience as something that can be utilized at the driver's discretion. In short, it will be there when they want and how they want, and in very customizable formats.
One example is the BMW Mixed Reality Slider, which works in conjunction with the head-up display (HUD). The driver will be able to decide how much digital content they want to see on the HUD whether it's basic driving information to the far more advanced augmented-reality projection.
The auto industry as a whole is moving into uncharted territory with AI as it assumes more and more control over mobility in general. The challenge for a carmaker like BMW and its long history of driving enjoyment is how to properly blend the two.
The answer, it appears, is to be able to shut off the AI features when they're not desired. But Durach emphasized to us that he believes customers will quickly come to appreciate what BMW has to offer. When it comes to safety, specifically distracted driving, Durach reiterated that BMW will not cut any technological corners.
"Safety is the highest priority when involving distracted driving. The important thing is to know how to display the right information at the right time while driving." For example, critical details like "how big is the [screen's] font size and when will the information disappear [from the screen]" are all being thoroughly studied.
BMW is already doing "intensive customer testing before any product is launched. [Things like] cultural differences are all being taken into account." We have already seen how BMW has managed to balance technology and driving with new models like the latest 7 Series, so we're confident this AI future will not be 100% Skynet.