The race for the first fully automated car is on. German luxury car manufacturer BMW has designed a vehicle capable of automated driving — driver input not required.
Unlike the driverless car patented by Google, this BMW isn't fully automated — it's only highly automated. The car still needs an alert driver able to take over for the automated system when needed, and the automated system only kicks in on highways that the designers have fully mapped out for the car ahead of time. Still, the BMW vehicle represents a major leap forward towards a safer future where cars drive themselves.
The car uses a number of different non-intrusive sensors including radar, cameras, lasers, and ultrasound to determine where it is and better understand its surroundings. If a slow-moving car is in the same lane as the smart car, it knows how to pass it safely and legally. The car even knows what the posted speed limits are, and never exceeds them.
The car may only be in the development phase, but it's already logged over 5,000 km of on-road experience. If tests continue to show promise, BMW might start laying the groundwork necessary to offer this technology to the public at large.
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