While self-driving cars are often positioned as a solution to navigating the mundane daily grind of urban traffic, BMW has just revealed a new prototype that can do the driving at the limit.
Called BMW ActiveAssist, the new technology is designed to bring the vehicle back into line in extreme situations. Debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week in an all-new 2 Series coupe, BMW claims that, “Precise and reliable vehicle control at the dynamic limit is a central building block in the development of highly automated driving.”
BMW claims the system can bring the car back into line in “demanding driving situations” with no input from the driver. In fact, it can run a slalom course, execute an emergency lane change manoeuvre and even drive a circular course regardless of the friction surface. Even when provoked into an oversteer situation (commonly known as drifting) the car will maintain a set course.
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What makes the ActiveAssist so unique is that in addition to controlling the car’s brakes, it also operates the steering and does so in a way that adapts to the situation. While the system does set the car on a predetermined path, it does not maintain a pre-set speed in all situations. Rather, it takes into account constantly changing grip levels and uses the steering to adjust.
Understeer situations are corrected by opening the steering wile oversteer situations are corrected through a combination of countersteering and braking.
While a prototype, BMW appears prepared to roll out this new technology in the near future, even going so far as to announce that the sensors required to make the system operate are the very same ones used in the current BMW stability control system, while the electronic steering system required, “is fitted as standard on all current BMW cars.”
In fact, BMW and technology partner Continental will engage in their latest round of highly automated driving trials on public roads in 2015, with plans to roll-out these systems in series-production vehicles in 2020.
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