Researchers have been tinkering around with driverless technology for a few years now and reportedly, BMW has a bit more experience with the technology than most. The German automaker has run semi-autonomous Track Trainer 330i models for about five years now. They use cameras and a practically infallible satellite navigation system to help with driver training and supposedly can run at a 95 percent race pace on any given track with no driver input. BMW and Continental Automotive have now joined forces and according to the automaker, their cars will be off and running sans drivers by 2020.
Automated driving is a huge positive. Many experts say that by removing the direct human input factor when it comes to maneuvering the vehicle there should be less accidents, improved traffic flow and parking, removal of constraints (like intoxication, driver distractions, under/over age limits), improved fuel efficiency, reduction in the need for traffic police and vehicle insurance and less road signage because the vehicles will be able to communicate electronically. The stigmas of driving will also be eased as self-driving cars will likely be more time-efficient, and user-friendly.
“With our vision of highly automated driving, we are already developing the technologies and methodologies for a range of cutting-edge driver assistance systems,” says Dr. Christoph Grote, Head of BMW Group Research and Technology said in a press release. “Partially automated driving functions of the near future, like the Traffic Jam Assistant, will mark an important step on the road to highly automated driving.”
Beginning 2013 and running through the end of the following year, the project is scheduled to run and over the year's time, numerous prototypes will be tested on German and other European roads and are expected to deal with various road situations like tolls, construction, intersections and navigation of international borders.
In addition to being autonomous, BMW has thought of adding just a touch more than can actually save a motorist's life. The BMW Emergency Stop system will switch at a moment's notice to fully automated mode, if it detects that the driver is experiencing a medical emergency that renders him unable to drive. The vehicle will safely get the driver to a safe spot and come to a smooth stop while at the same time notifying emergency and traffic authorities.
Sounds like the coolest co-piloting system ever!
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