At CES 2014, German car maker BMW demonstrated how highly
automated driving using advanced control technology can cope with all driving
situations right up to the vehicle’s dynamic limits. Now, at CES 2015, the
company is showing how new sensors can be used to move to the next stage –
fully collision-free, fully automated driving. This latest milestone from the
BMW Group is a further step on the road towards accident-free personal mobility
in both driver-operated and fully automated, driverless vehicles, said a press
release issued by the company.
The 360-degree collision avoidance is based on precise
position and environment sensing. Four highly advanced laser scanners monitor
the surroundings of the research vehicle (a BMW i3) and accurately identify
obstacles, such as pillars in multi-storey car parks. An audible signal warns
the driver in a potential collision situation. As a last resort, for example if
the vehicle is approaching a wall or pillar too quickly, it is also possible to
initiate automatic braking, bringing the vehicle to a standstill with
centimetre accuracy. If the driver steers away from the obstacle or reverses
direction, braking is automatically interrupted. This function reduces strain
on the driver in difficult-to-monitor driving environments for improved safety
and convenience. Just like any other BMW assistance system, this research
application can also be overridden by the driver at any time.
Fully automated parking in multi-storey car parks – quick
and safe, even without a driver. The fully automated Remote Valet Parking
Assistant in the BMW i3 research vehicle combines the information obtained by
onboard laser scanners with the digital plan of a building, for example a
multi-storey car park. When the driver activates the fully automated Remote
Valet Parking Assistant, using his smart watch, the vehicle is driven quickly
and autonomously through the various parking levels to a parking space. In the
meantime, the driver can already be on the way to his next appointment. The
fully automated Remote Valet Parking Assistant and its sensors accurately
detect not only the physical features of the building but also any unexpected
obstacles – such as incorrectly parked vehicles – and, equally accurately, will
steer a course around them. When the BMW i3 reaches its final parking position,
it parks and automatically locks itself. It then waits to be summoned in due
course by a smart watch voice command. On receiving such a command, the fully
automated Remote Valet Parking Assistant calculates the exact time the driver
will be back at the car park, and then starts the BMW i3 so that it reaches the
car park exit in time for the driver’s arrival.
By integrating vehicle sensor data with the digital car park
plan, BMW has made it possible to control the vehicle fully automatically
without having to rely on a GPS signal. The research vehicle is equipped not
only with laser sensors but also with computing modules and algorithms,
allowing it to precisely determine its position in the car park, to perfectly
monitor its surroundings and to navigate autonomously and fully automatically.
This allows vehicles to orientate themselves and navigate without going to the
expense of fitting the car park – or other facility – with special
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