Service Robots

How the BMW Autonomous Car Works

It all started with four wheels and a driver, and it ends with four wheels attached to an intelligent robot that knows how to drive itself. Next decade prepares us for the use of intelligent vehicles that drive themselves and in the next 10 to 15 years the roads would be much safer than before. For beginning these four-wheeled robots require a driver following that the next step to develop cognitive and navigation technologies to understand the environment. Both the infrastructure and society will be changed to take up new trends which required less effort from human side in a world with cars and without car drivers.

This trend of making intelligent cars is put into practice by BMW with a 5 Series car prototype and a ConnectedDrive technology integrated which offers the driver safety and comfort. The prototype is tested since 2011 when the project was revealed for the first time. Since then BMW releases new updates for this system which becomes more or less an intelligent robot. The final stage is to build a 100% self driving car where no driver required, only passengers and a comfortable car which satisfy our desires in terms of transport.

BMW Self-Driving Car

BMW ConnectedDrive includes new technologies for a car which are under development like radar, LIDAR, or ultra sound sensors and video cameras to detect all surrounding objects. The car understands the environment in two steps using ultrasound waves to detect objects for short distances and radio technology for large areas.

BMW prototype could answer to almost all questions, from questions about restaurants to information about destinations. Using Internet connection the car is transformed in a personal assistant ready to meet the needs.

Working on the first fully autonomous car, BMW engineers aim is to create a fast car with maximum safety and comfortable to continue company line to produce premium cars. Finding these objectives in cars of the future will be done especially for electric versions like BMW i3 which is prepared to be released on the market in 2014. Since then these intelligent systems will be integrated in cars already available on the market.

Starting with i3 and maybe with i8, BMW group have every confidence that 75 percent from cars until 2040 will be self-driving vehicles. Until then Google already test his technology on U.S. roads where the car can be left to drive themselves. Google fleet includes a Toyota Prius Hybrids and a Lexus RX450h.

Compared with Google, BMW trying to keep the cars design unchanged, as much as it can be. This involved the use of different systems but based on the same idea as technologies used by Google engineers.

Back to BMW prototype car already on roads, this is not fully automated and is one step away to become a self-driving robot. This intelligent system works only on highways where a range of sensors are used to read the roads. The vehicle takes care by driver and makes adjustments and overtakes if the speed limit is exceeded or there is the situation of losing control.

The car is a communication center on wheels. Using BMW Service Centre system the vehicle sends information to the center at a touch of a button or automatically if is necessary. This system is a helpful tool to arrange a service appointment.

Driving a car in the night is tiresome and requires more effort from the driver. Using a thermal camera the BMW car displays all the objects in the environment to help the driver. Also if the driver does not have a full care to drive and loose the control, the vehicle starts its safety systems like Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning and Collision Warning to assist the driver.

Could not miss connections between an intelligent vehicle and a smartphone or a table. BMW Connected is an application for iPhone designed to be used for text-to-speech function, update social networks status, and other applications compatible with mobile devices.

Using GPS, radar, LIDAR, ultra sound sensors and video cameras the car captures all surrounding objects and operates the braking and acceleration systems according to the rules set. At a speed of 130 km/h (81 mph) for example if the sensors detects an object in its path the system will bypass the obstacle and return to its original lane. Since the system was integrated in BMW car prototype the engineers tested for almost 5,000 km (3,107 miles) on roads. Finally the system will enter in mass production and will be installed on BMW cars, but for moments there are still reluctant to display the company’s goal to do this until 2014.

Until a full robotic car there is a big step to be passed by BMW engineers and this is to develop an algorithm to anticipate spontaneous events that might occur in traffic. This algorithm is based on artificial intelligence and uses all car systems to anticipate and avoid unfortunate cases which can happen in traffic.

This intelligent car is developed at BMW headquarter in Munich, Germany and from there we will have the new generation of BMW cars.

New technologies, autonomous cars, advanced electric cars, all of these have a price. A self-driving car could have an estimated price of $200,000 which is very high. Market growth for these vehicles will entail a decrease in price but it requires time. For starters we let sensors and computers to drive until office and back to home while we update Facebook status or watch the favorite show.

Is only a notion of time until self-driving cars will be tested by automotive specialists and will be seen in shows like Top Gear. But until then we have to look over the shoulder to see these cars in tests on roads.

Huffingtonpost, Carmaker Shows Off Hands-Free Car On Autobahn;
BMW, Connecteddrive;


Dragos George is an IT analyst who graduated Faculty of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, specialization Industrial Automation and Informatics with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering, Automation and Computer Science. He has a great passion for robots and web development.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.