You may have heard of automated cars, self driving cars, its the stuff of nightmares for motoring purists but also an idea way ahead of its time in a distant, not yet realised future.
Think again, automated cars are the future because they are already here, the only issue holding back this technology is government legislation and safety issues. BMW has been researching and developing this technology for the past few years and has just announced it is aligning itself with Chinese internet giant, Baidu, the Google of the far east.
BMW will begin automated driving trails in Shanghai and Beijing, the company’s automated driving test mules have already logged thousands of miles on German autobahns. BMW hopes to expand the trails throughout China if the initial assessments prove successful.
In a statement the company said, “Vision Zero” is a strategy for achieving “accident-free mobility” that is being pursued right across Europe in many different arenas – social, political, scientific and industrial. Highly automated driving is capable of bringing Vision Zero a significant step closer to reality. In addition to the safety aspect, the aim is to enhance comfort and efficiency as well. The BMW Group believes that highly automated driving will play a major part in ensuring sustainable personal mobility in the future”.
The partnership with Baidu is required because semi-autonomous cars require detailed high resolution maps to navigate with the utmost precision, ironically to avoid the collision free motoring BMW want to promote.
This is where China’s Baidu comes in to play, like Google, the Chinese search giant also creates detailed maps and BMW wants to use utilise this rich source of data to effectively program its self driving cars.
BMW also said, “An “electronic co-pilot” system is not only able to relieve the driver of monotonous or repetitive driving tasks, but can also take over full control of the vehicle if desired. Following on from research projects in which BMW vehicles have already clocked up thousands of kilometres of highly automated driving on German and European motorways, a project is now being launched in the world’s largest car market, China, as the next logical step in the development of this technology. The fast-expanding Chinese market includes the metropolitan regions of Beijing and Shanghai and a growing number of other megacities”.