• Dec 5, 2006

Car companies and electronic manufacturers are always conspiring to come up with new high-tech gimmicks for our cars. Almost invariably, they either distract the driver from driving or else help him keep his eyes on the road. Champions of road safety (and cool flashing lights) that we are, of course we prefer the latter. With more cars on the road each passing day – and average driver skill not improving one bit – staying on the road is enough of a challenge without toying with an unintelligible driver interface (iDrive, we're looking at you), being distracted by in-dash DVD players or looking for directions from a sat-nav screen.

That's why we applaud BMW's new HUD. The Bavarians have put all the vital information right there on the windshield so you never have to take your eyes off the road. The HUD projects the speed as well as information from the sat-nav system right ahead of you. BMW's also reportedly working on something called RoadPreview that also projects information regarding upcoming obstacles and big turns, cross-referencing the data with your speed to tell you if you're going too fast to avoid what's up ahead. (Given some of the jerks we've seen behind the wheels of Bimmers, this could only bode well.)

Sounds to us like the engineers in Munich have been listening attentively to The Doors: "Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel". HUDs can be found in other cars currently on the market, like the Chevy Corvette whose HUD also displays key vehicle info, nav directions and even a real-time g-meter.

[Source: Motor Authority]



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  • 19 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      What a joke. Any "innovation" not coming out of Toyota is pure junk.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Bravo BMW for pushing the technological envelope again in the name of safety - The Ultimate (technology packed) Driving Experience. Hopefully, the electrical reliability is up to industry standard with these new toys.

      Personally, while I'm not a fan of the 'looks' of it, Honda's two tier dash seems like a simpler alternative - it presents the basic information without all the gimmmericky and added technological complexity. Perhaps they could expand on this and include a Sat-nav feed too? While it isn't as cool as a HUD it seems to get the job done just fine ^.^
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with the commenter above about iDrive. My brother just bought a 550 and he says that once you read the manual it's pretty nice.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's not only in the Corvette, it has been available in the Pontiac Grand Prix for about 5 years. Although the Grand Prix HUD is kind of skeletal. Actually, all the GM HUDs except for the Corvette one and the (now gone) Cadillac DTS night vision ones are kind of skeletal.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have a BMW, and I think iDrive is great because it cuts down on the clutter of buttons on your dashboard. In fact, since there's only a few, you can spend more time looking at the road than fumbling about to try to find the right knobs.

      The HUD display is cool too, but like Kansei said, it can actually be slower to read, because you are focusing on an image printed on a see-through glass. I like the HUD only because it's cool, but I think it's rather useless.

      To gauge my speed, I can go by sound and/or how fast the pavement is moving underneath my car. I can also gauge rpm and mph via peripheral vision. There's no need to even look at the HUD or the speedometer.

      For gps navigation integration, BMW only displays functional direction arrows; it doesn't display the map. For many instances, this is almost useless and I still find myself looking at the gps map when the Nav tells me to turn. I guess the bottom line is HUD is cool to impress your friends, but I haven't it to be useless and a waste of time. If BMW also displayed the gps map with HUD, that might actually be worth it.

      HUD could also be useful for night vision assist, particularly, when it storms, and you got alot of glare from the opposing traffic. But it needs to be done really smart. So for the glaring areas of the windscreen, the HUD should be displayed in a dark color, and for the darker areas of the windscreen, the HUD should display a light color. Just to give an example. It would also make HUD a billion dollars in cost.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm pretty sure I remember my next door neighbor had a Lincoln or a Mercury with a HUD back in the 80s. It only displayed the speed and a couple other things, but I still thought it was cool.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow, there's a big dose of worthless. HUDs are as silly as navi systems. As the "jerk" owner of a BMW (owned a few before and have an e90 now), I try to avoid most of their electronic doodads as BMW doesn't seem to hire any electrical engineers worth a darn.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Actually HUD has been in the Grand Prix and related vehicles even longer... it was introduced in 89, so this is hardly a new technology
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why is this news?

      PONTIAC has had this for AGES now!

      This is ridiculous! Why does BMW get all the press for stuff like this?

      When do we expect to see an article praising Pontiac and General Motors?
      • 8 Years Ago
      My parent's '89 maxima had HUD. That was...17 years ago!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why is it that just because BMW does something, it's big news? GM has had this for over a decade (sans the nav integration), and it has been in planes for triple that. They are just taking it from the brains at Honeywell and Rockwell Collins.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The first gen iDrive was a mess. It has slowly improved and the new iDrive coming in the new X5 and 07 Mini are a big improvement.

      The only thing that is missing is a consistant navigation. The fact that you have to move up down and twist in some instances is inconsistant. If they simply used up/down and left/right motions in all menus that would solve the problem.

      With Nav, it has some annoying features like when looking up POI's. iPod integration is more expensive and trouble than its worth (why should you have to rip most of your console to plug in a wire that should have been their from the factory?). Some menus for configurations are buried in non-obvious places.

      The addition of voice commands and programmable wheel buttons makes it easier.

      iDrive has come a long way and credit has not been given to the improvements but that said it still has a long way to go -- it has become usuable but it is still less than perfect
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