Tag Archives: BMW

How Close Is BMW to Creating Autonomous Vehicles?

There’s been a ton of buzz surrounding self-driving cars recently, both about BMW and the broader auto industry. It seems like we’re perpetually on the cusp of a world in which no one has to physically drive their own cars anymore. When will autonomous vehicles — and, more specifically, self-driving BMWs — really be ready?

The Five Levels of Autonomous Driving

Experts define five levels of autonomous driving, with each one being more advanced than the one before it. Level one includes driver assist technologies that help the driver but don’t take control over the car. In level five, the vehicle operates itself completely, and the people in the car are merely passengers.

Level one technologies are commonplace in today’s world, and all new BMW models have them. BMW Personal CoPilot driver assistance systems are examples of level one tech. These systems include Active Cruise Control with the Stop&Go function, which adjusts your distance to the car in front of you. The Collision and Pedestrian Warning system with City Brake Activation uses automatic braking to prevent collisions.

Some Beamers also have level two technologies. In this level, the car can take control, but the driver is still responsible for vehicle operation. These systems include BMW’s Steering and Lane Control Assistant, which includes Traffic Jam Assistant. Designed to make everyday driving easier, these systems can take over steering, in addition to automatically braking and accelerating. Another example is the remote-controlled parking function.

In keeping with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s autonomous vehicle testing guidelines, BMW is currently testing cars with level three and level four autonomy. It aims to introduce level three cars to the consumer marker by 2021. These vehicles would be able to drive autonomously for longer periods, but drivers would still need to be ready to take control quickly and would have to drive under some conditions.

BMW is also testing level four cars and has a fleet of around 40 of them in Munich and California. In level four, the vehicle drives autonomously the majority of the time, although the driver must still be able to take over.

BMW’s Current Efforts

With a research and development team of about 1,000 people, BMW is working continuously on its autonomous vehicle technologies. The company does much of its research and development work out of its Silicon Valley technology office. The company is also testing the vehicles in California and Munich.

The test vehicles are loaded with cameras, lidar systems and other sensors that allow them to capture data about their environment. This includes information about the motion of other vehicles, the presence of pedestrians and other hazards. Hardware located in the trunk of the cars process all this information and puts it into action.

BMW is working with several partners on its autonomous vehicle tech, including Intel Corp., which owns sensor maker Mobileye. BMW also works with German automotive parts maker Continental AG and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. BMW has said it’s open to working with other collaborators and is pursuing a nonexclusive platform for the development of self-driving technology.

The iNext Concept

The Vision iNext concept provides a glimpse into what the future of BMW vehicles may look like. The idea behind the iNext concept is to turn the vehicle into a “living space on wheels.” It’s designed to be a place where you can relax as if you were at home, while still having the option of the driving experience BMW is known for.

The driver has two options for what experience they want to have in this iNext concept vehicle. In Boost mode, the driver is in full control, and the steering wheel is easily accessible. In Ease mode, the car operates autonomously. The steering wheel retracts slightly, freeing up some space. The vehicle includes two interactive digital screens that display information, such as your speed and your proximity to other cars.

The company premiered the concept at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It plans to have a production version in its showrooms by 2021 in the form of a level-three, all-electric SUV from its “i” brand.

Today’s new BMWs already have some autonomous functionalities, but we’re still a relatively long way off from fully autonomous, level five vehicles. We need more technological advancements as well as substantial safety testing, and federal rules will need to evolve further before we can fully adopt self-driving vehicles. BMW, however, expects Beamers with level-three capabilities to hit showrooms by 2021.

BMW, along with the rest of the auto industry, is moving steadily toward an autonomous future.

BMW Reveals 2020 M340i

BMW has teased us with the reinvention of the 3-Series for a while now, and while they did reveal the 2020 seventh generation 3-series in October, we’re more excited about the new sporty version of this car.

The car giant just revealed the M-variant for this new 3-Series – the M340i. Let’s take a closer look at what this sporty little BMW will bring to the table, and when you can expect to find it at your local dealership.

Image: BMW

Some Stiff Competition

The new M340i will be equipped with a 3.0L Turbo in-line 6 cylinder engine. It’s actually the the same engine that sat under the hood of the sixth generation M340i, but it’s undergone a makeover to pull even more horsepower and torque out of the German engineering.

This particular engine style puts it in direct competition with two other luxury cars in it’s class – the S4 by Audi and the C43 by Mercedes, which both have a 3.0L straight six engine.

The M340i falls squarely in the middle when it comes to horsepower, with it’s newly tuned engine generating 382 horsepower. For comparison, the Mercedes generates 385hp and the S4 brings up the rear with 354 hp.

All the Bells and Whistles

In addition to the engine, the M340i is equipped with all the bells and whistles. One thing that might disappoint BMW purists is the fact that the only transmission option currently available for this model is an 8-speed automatic.

It does come equipped with optional all wheel drive. While it doesn’t make up for the lack of a manual transmission, it is a pretty decent consolation prize.

Other standard equipment includes an electronically controlled differential, and M Sport brakes with a 13.7 inch rotor and 4 piston calipers in the front. Rear brakes are reduced to a single piston caliper.

The suspension in the new M340i has been upgraded too, using a new technology to minimize the amount of road bumps that you feel behind the wheel. The front shocks work to absorb rebound, while the rear shocks can alter the compression as needed.

Of course, if you want all the bells and whistles, you can choose the optional electronically controlled adaptive shocks for an additional cost.

Even the exterior has gotten an upgrade. While it doesn’t look much different than the previous generations of this model, the body shell is lighter and stiffer, decreasing the car’s overall weight by roughly 120 pounds.

BMW hasn’t released any pricing information for this new 3-Series sports car yet, but it should be making an appearance in BMW showrooms across the country in July of 2019 to be ready for the 2020 model year.

We should be seeing price information in the coming months, ahead of the car’s official release. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel of this new M340i though, just to test out that new suspension.

While the lack of a manual transmission might make some drivers balk, BMW definitely tries to make up for it with all the bells and whistles that they’ll be including as standard equipment on this sporty new model.

The First-Ever 2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible … the M850i xDrive Convertible

BMW has just introduced the first-ever BMW 8 Series Convertible, which joins the new BMW 8 Series Coupe in blending ultra-sporting driving dynamics with an emotional and elegant design. The soft-top, four-seat BMW M850i xDrive Convertible combines immense power and torque delivery with tenacious grip and peerless poise from the advanced chassis, luxurious comfort and state-of-the-art innovations in technology, driver assistance, and connectivity. The result, is a vehicle that delivers an impeccable four-season driving experience, with the charisma of a low-slung, aggressively styled open-top sports convertible, inviting the warming rays of the sun and the wind flowing past the cockpit to be your constant driving companions.

The launch of the first-ever BMW M850i xDrive Convertible marks the premiere of a new BMW TwinPower turbocharged V8 engine. The latest generation of the 4.4-liter eight-cylinder engine has been radically revised with numerous detailed improvements. Two twin-scroll turbochargers with charge air cooling located within the V-shaped space between the cylinder banks, high precision injection, VALVETRONIC fully variable valve control and Double-VANOS variable camshaft timing all form part of the M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology, whose extensive overhaul has given a substantial boost to maximum power, torque and efficiency.

The M850i comes with BMWs xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system which has been improved for more efficient operation. With its rapid, precise and fully variable distribution of drive torque between the front and rear wheels, it maximizes traction and handling stability not just when driving in adverse road conditions, but in performance driving situations as well. Power is split in accordance with demands at all times using an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch that is networked with the powertrain and chassis systems. This results in extremely quick and exact response to any change in the driving situation.

To increase the system’s efficiency, all of the drive torque is directed to the rear wheels in situations when all-wheel drive is not needed. The xDrive system’s rear-biased set-up guarantees a driving experience for which BMW sports cars are renowned. The fact that the all-wheel-drive system has been specifically designed for performance handling is especially noticeable in the SPORT and SPORT+ modes selected via the Driving Experience Control switch.

Standard on the M850i is Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers. Both compression and rebound are adjusted continuously and independently. This facilitates finely tuned spring and damping responses, providing the driver with only relevant information about the road surface. The extremely stiff suspension springs reduce roll tendency and allow the dampers to stabilize the wheels as much as possible, avoiding traction losses caused by bumps and ruts in the road surface. The electronically controlled dampers respond adaptively to road surface conditions and driving style in order to eliminate undesired vehicle movement. Minor road damage is comfortably filtered out and narrow bumps do not induce unwanted pitching movements.

Damping characteristics can be adjusted via the Driving Experience Control switch. SPORT and SPORT+ modes activate optimal responses for maximum handling. This is noticeably different from the comfort-oriented damper setting in ECO Pro and COMFORT modes.

Active roll stabilization is optionally available for the first-ever BMW M850i xDrive Convertible and further enhances the car’s sporty handling characteristics. Electric swivel motors on the front and rear anti-roll bars ensure fast and precise compensation for lateral forces during dynamic driving maneuvers. The system is controlled through a constant analysis of vehicle speed, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, steering wheel position, wheel and body acceleration and variation in height levels. In BMW M Performance models, active roll stabilization has an exceptionally sporty set-up and adapts to changing requirements. It optimizes agility and directional stability on turn-in and helps line the car up as neatly as possible for improved acceleration out of corners. The reduced body movement also means that fast evasive maneuvers can be executed with great assurance.

The standard specification for the new BMW M850i  contains exclusive design features and options to enhance the driving experience. In addition to multi-function seats and the M leather steering wheel, there are M pedals, M driver’s footrest and special floor mats to imbue the cabin with a distinctly sporty flair. The illuminated door sills and the display in the instrument cluster bear the BMW M Performance Automobile model badge or the M logo respectively.

The M850i xDrive Convertible is scheduled for release March 2019 with a starting price of $121,400 plus $995 destination charge.