BMW Automated Driving


Heading for Europe’s motorways in a highly automated BMW. BMW Group and Continental team up on next step towards highly automated driving.

BMW Autonomous Driving

Munich/Hanover. The BMW Group and the international  automotive supplier Continental are stepping up their collaboration in  the field of driver assistance systems. In January, the two companies  signed an agreement to jointly develop an electronic co-pilot system  capable of supporting highly automated driving.

The main goal of the  research partnership is to have highly automated driving functions  ready for implementation until 2020 and thereafter. At the social,  political, economic and scientific level, a clear vision has now  emerged for road safety – in the form of “Vision Zero (Accident-Free  Mobility)” and “Safety for All”.

The research project on highly  automated driving will aim to implement this vision and to take a  major step towards making accident-free mobility a reality. In  addition to the safety aspect, the researchers also see opportunities  for significantly improved convenience and efficiency. “With our  vision of highly automated driving, we are already developing the  technologies and methodologies for a range of cutting-edge driver  assistance systems. Partially automated driving functions of the near  future, like the Traffic Jam Assistant, will mark an important step on  the road to highly automated driving,” says Dr. Christoph Grote, Head  of BMW Group Research and Technology.

BMW Automated Driving

Both companies agree that highly automated driving will play a major  part in ensuring sustainable personal mobility in future.

The goal: highly automated driving on European motorways.

The joint project between the BMW Group and Continental is scheduled  to run from early 2013 to the end of 2014. Over this two-year  timeline, a number of prototypes capable of highly automated operation  on motorways will be developed. They will then be handed over to a  selected group of trained test participants for pilot-testing of their  near-production highly automated driving functions. The tests, which  will take place on German and European motorways, will take into  account all the typical challenges, such as motorway intersections,  toll stations, roadworks and national borders.

To help the system progress from vision to reality, a number of teams  from both companies will address a range of technical challenges,  since only with a complete command of the necessary technology will it  also be possible to develop a legal framework for automated driving.

Many years’ experience in highly automated driving.

Over the last ten years, the BMW Group has already made important  strides towards the development of highly automated driving functions.

In mid-2011, a BMW Group Research and Technology test vehicle  underwent a public road test on the A9 motorway between Munich and  Nuremberg – with no driver intervention. This research prototype,  which is still undergoing continuous improvement, braked, accelerated  and overtook other vehicles entirely autonomously, while at the same  time always adapting to the current traffic situation and adhering to  traffic rules. In the meantime, approximately 10,000 test kilometres  have been clocked up with this prototype. If this highly automated  research vehicle is to operate smoothly and adaptively in traffic, its  operating strategies must be clearly defined. These strategies are  derived from two main components – accurate positioning of the vehicle  in its traffic lane and robust recognition of all vehicles and objects  in the vehicle’s immediate environment. The sensing is performed by a  fusion of diverse and complementary sensor technologies including  all-round lidar, radar, ultrasound and camera scanning. Despite this  360° sensing capability, there is little on the outside to tell this  vehicle apart from a standard model.

The principal technologies required for highly automated driving were  developed by the BMW Group Research and Technology engineers in the  precursor research projects BMW TrackTrainer and Emergency Stop  Assistant. Based on a fusion of highly accurate digital map, GPS and  video data, the BMW TrackTrainer can navigate vehicles round racing  circuits fully autonomously, following the ideal “racing line”. On 21  October 2009, the system was used to automatically guide a vehicle  round the Nürburgring North Loop. And on 25 May 2011, when the BMW  TrackTrainer came to the USA, a demonstration on the Laguna Seca  Raceway in California showed that highly automated vehicles can  deliver impressive performance.

If a medical emergency is identified in the vehicle, for example if  biosensors detect that the driver is having a heart attack, the BMW  Emergency Stop Assistant is able to switch to highly automated driving  mode and bring the vehicle safely to a stop. The system activates the  hazard warning lights and, taking into account the traffic situation,  manoeuvres the vehicle in a safe and controlled way to a standstill on  the nearside shoulder. At the same time an emergency call is  automatically sent out via BMW eCall to request medical assistance and  notify the traffic authorities. This ensures the emergency response  effort is both efficient and appropriate.