What next for the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence?

Bloomberg Pursuits - - Seek — Action -

It's a dark day in the fu­ture and your car is en­veloped in thick fog as it ap­proaches a coun­try cross­roads, with on­com­ing ve­hi­cles from left and right. Fear not, tech­nol­ogy is on your side.

For the driver of to­mor­row, the way-ahead will be as clear as the high­est-def­i­ni­tion dig­i­tal im­agery, mapped out across the en­tire wind­shield to bring clar­ity not only to the fog-shrouded road ahead but to the traf­fic ar­riv­ing from be­yond the nor­mal field of hu­man vi­sion.

This is the driver ex­pe­ri­ence af­forded by BMW's Head-Up Dis­play, a cen­tral fea­ture of the BMW VI­SION NEXT 100 se­ries of how our fu­ture lives will be be­hind the wheel – if, that is, you choose to be driv­ing your­self.

The Head-Up dis­play works in com­bi­na­tion with Alive Ge­om­e­try, a co­or­di­nated dis­play of small tri­an­gles that ex­tend across the sur­face of the ve­hi­cle's dash­board like a flock of birds in con­trolled flight, which makes the driver aware of po­ten­tial dan­gers from other ob­jects, in­clud­ing those not yet vis­i­ble with the naked eye.

Much has been said about the im­pend­ing ar­rival of driver­less cars as es­tabished man­u­fac­tur­ers have been joined by global in­ter­net giants in fo­cus­ing on to­mor­row's mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions. The day that ve­hi­cles can pro­pel them­selves along is al­most upon us. BMW Group is among those lead­ing the tran­si­tion. Re­search en­gi­neer Michael Ae­ber­hard runs the BMW Group divi­sion be­hind its pro­to­type 5 Se­ries. In con­trast to some other au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle projects, the BMW car does not have con­spic­u­ous sen­sors bolted on to its ex­te­rior, and, Ae­ber­hard says, the em­pha­sis is to make it look as much like a nor­mal 5 Se­ries model as pos­si­ble.

BMW's first highly au­to­mated car, when the driver will be able to do some­thing other than mon­i­tor the sys­tem, is ex­pected to be avail­able some­time af­ter 2020.

In China, BMW Group has teamed up with dig­i­tal gi­ant Baidu to cre­ate a unit ded­i­cated to de­vel­op­ing au­to­mated cars as pub­lic trans­port. Baidu's two pro­to­type BMW 3 Se­ries Gran Tur­ismo driver­less ve­hi­cles are cur­rently be­ing tested on roads north of Bei­jing, with plans to de­velop and build more in the fu­ture.

But the Ger­man man­u­fac­turer is not plan­ning on let­ting com­put­ers have all the fun. Its BMW VI­SION NEXT 100 project in­cor­po­rates the con­cept of 'Boost' mode, where noth­ing gets in the way of the joy of driv­ing.

In Boost mode, in­tel­li­gent sen­sors and rich data en­able the driver to re­main fo­cused on the road. The Head-Up Dis­play can track the per­fect driv­ing line, ideal speed and op­ti­mum turn­ing point. The Alive Ge­om­e­try will help mon­i­tor ex­ter­nal fac­tors, and en­sure safety re­mains of para­mount im­por­tance.

For more straight-for­ward or traf­fic-heavy drives, there is the op­tion of 'Ease' mode: The steer­ing wheel and cen­tral con­sole re­tract, head­rests read­just and seats and door pan­els merge to form a sin­gle unit. The car, in ef­fect, be­comes a liv­ing room.

This is not space age stuff imag­ined for the next cen­tury, as­sures BMW Group's De­sign Di­rec­tor, Adrian van Hooy­donk; it is re­ally a vi­sion for the next 15 years-or-so.

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