Tag Archives: Vision iNext

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.

Interactive BMW Vision iNext Concept to Grace CES in 2019

The Consumer Electronic’s Show, or CES, happens in Las Vegas every year, and it’s the place to be for anyone interested in the new year’s electronics, cars and everything in between.

This coming year, BMW is planning to premiere a new concept that everyone is excited about. Let’s take a closer look at the new Vision iNext Concept that will grace the stage at 2019’s CES.

Introducing the Vision iNext Concept

Image via BMW Group Press

BMW has always been a brand that is synonymous with innovation and technological advances. They’re taking this label to the next level in the coming year with their iNext concept. The idea is to turn this BMW SUV into a ‘living space on wheels’ — creating a vehicle that gives you all the comforts of home so that you enjoy getting behind the wheel.

This concept will have a fully electric drivetrain and advanced autonomous driving programming. The driver has two options for their seat and the surrounding area. Boost mode gives the driver full control, with the steering wheel and other controls in easy reach.

When the autonomous driving program is engaged, the driver can switch to Ease mode, which retracts the steering wheel slightly, giving them more room to get comfortable. It’s easy to switch seamlessly between the two modes, depending on the needs of the driver.

Bells and Whistles

Image via BMW Group Press

The Vision iNext will have all the bells and whistles, but you might not see them at first glance. All the smart technology will be integrated into the car, only appearing when needed by the driver or passengers.

This setup creates a much cleaner interior, and you’ll never have to worry about accidentally smacking a smart screen or catching your sleeve on something when you’re shifting position.

The driver will also have access to two digital screens that convey everything from speed and RPMs to the proximity of other cars. This interactive glass technology will help to keep the driver aware of everything going on outside of their vehicle.

This technology has started appearing in modern cars in the form of a Heads Up Display, or HUD, which moves information like speed and fuel levels from the dash, where it’s below eye level, to the windshield — without obscuring the driver’s view of the road.

Take It for a Test Drive

While you won’t be able to get behind the wheel of the Vision iNext at 2019’s CES, that doesn’t mean you can’t take it for a test drive. Putting on a set of VR glasses, you’ll be able to test out the vehicle’s capabilities.

Starting with driving the car, then utilizing BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, you can put the car in Ease mode and let the AI plan your trip for you.

The Vision iNext won’t be the only fantastic piece of automotive technology on the floor at CES 2019, but it’s one that we’re excited to see. This concept likely won’t premiere at BMW dealerships until 2020 at the earliest, but the first look has us ready to line up for a chance to get behind the wheel.