BMW says self-driving i NEXT will be available in 2021
From Audi to Volvo, the world's automakers are pushing hard to have their autonomous cars ready for general consumption, but BMW's CEO has just given one of the clearest indications yet of when we can first expect to give up the steering wheel. Speaking at a shareholder meeting this week, Harald Krüger said the Bavarian giant would have an autonomous vehicle called the i NEXT on the road by 2021.
We don't know for sure what the i NEXT will look like, but Krüger describes it as BMW's "new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road."
If you've been following BMW's concept cars recently, none of these elements will come as a surprise. The iVision Future Interaction Concept demonstrated a three-display interior setup, designed to connect owners with the outside world without overwhelming them with information, while the Vision Next 100 showed off a center console and steering wheel that fold away when you want to kick back and let the car do the work.
Interestingly, Krüger was quick to acknowledge the emotion involved in making the move to autonomous e-mobility, and said industry-wide cooperation on self-driving is crucial to getting the technology off the ground.
"The discussion about e-mobility is an emotional one, but the decisive factor is that we move things forward. I am certain that government measures will prove effective," he said.
"It is always better to make a decision than to wait – and the purchase incentive will directly benefit customers. There was never any doubt that we would participate. Such a participation by the industry is unique worldwide. After all, the only way to make progress is by manufacturers, customers, lawmakers and society all working together."
The announcement comes amid a push from Volvo to expand its self-driving research across China and the UK, while a team of truck manufacturers recently proved the worth of autonomous platooning during their trek across Europe.
Google has also taken the step of putting its self driving hardware into Chrysler minivans, and you can even let a Tesla handle the steering and throttle in Autopilot mode.
It seems the autonomous car revolution is coming, whether you like it or not.
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> road subsidence, bridges that have been swept away etc. This is only detectable at low speed. The faster the vehicle is traveling, the longer the stopping distance from detection to stationary. Limiting all autonomous vehicles to 5 mph is not practical.
> Icy patches in frost hollows. Even humans get caught out by these.
> local flooding. How will the autonomous system detect standing water that can cause the wheels to aquaplane? One can imagine an accident scene with people applying first aid while other autonomous cars run into them. One can not argue that the first car will inform other cars because it has been involved in an accident which could have destroyed its ability to inform anyone.
> What is to happen if a sensor fails? Just stop and cause a hold up to the traffic? Or plough on sounding the horn to warn anyone or any thing that could be in the way?
I suppose the point here is that it was a shareholders' meeting and an issue like this is part of the BS that fill out the time at such events. It's a bit like peeing in one's pants; it gives those present a warm feeling and has little effect in the grand scheme of things..
As for five years to get them into production, forget it, just plain forget it. They might get them running on autostrada/motorways and interstates etc., until the claims for damages come in thick and fast, and the public turn against them. As an ex car engineer, I know that I will never be seen in one and hopefully never under one either.
The past 3o years of software & hardware leaves little doubt that we are very far from 100% compatibility, reliability, and most importantly affordability...