Last May we went for a high-speed run around Laguna Seca in BMW's Track Trainer, a modified 3 Series that can click of two-minute laps without the driver touching the controls. Now, BMW has packed a 5 Series with the next iteration of the technology and taken it on to the open road.

This latest ConnectedDrive experiment uses much of the same tech, but beyond the radar and camera systems on the 3er, it includes new ultrasonic scanners and lasers to re-read the road surface, lines and surrounding vehicles. We say "re-read" because like the system we sampled at Laguna, this version needs to have the road data downloaded into the car before it can drive sans human intervention.

Still, out on the autobahn it appears to work well, slowing for traffic, accelerating up to speed and performing lane changes when necessary. It's still too early to tell if the system will ever gain widespread adoption – particularly given the need for advance road data – but the 2013 BMW i3 will be equipped with a new Traffic Jam Assistant system that will steer, accelerate and brake the city car up to 25 mph in congestion, so the functionality is on its way, just not at autobahn speeds. Check out the demo in the video below the fold.



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  • 24 Comments
      Slartibartfast
      • 2 Years Ago
      If my car is going to do the driving, why would I want a BMW? Put this tech into a big old 'Merican luxobarge form the 70's and I'd love it - could relax and have a nap on the way.
      mdrieling
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love driving. I really love driving, but I hate commuting. I have a job, that I have to drive to. I travel because of my job, and that travelling is done (mainly) by car. I commute more than I DRIVE. I can safely assume most people here are in the same situation. We drive because it's fun, and commute because we have to. This technology wont stop us from driving but it will eliminate the drudgery that is the commute. When I drive 5 hours to cross a state, I would love to be able to do something else (sleep, or prep for my morning meeting). I wonder how this would translate to a vehicle that is towing (I also pull a 35' camper on a regular basis).
      Patrick
      • 2 Years Ago
      So when this car gets in an accident does the insurance claim go to BMW since they were driving?
      BG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Remember the E39, possibly the last "old school" 5-series sedan?
      IchiroA
      • 2 Years Ago
      Im all for this stuff, way too many stupid and unsafe drivers out there. Just give the ability to drive manually and I will be happy. You know most people will let the computer drive and those are the ones we don't want driving anyways. 5-10 years from now I'm looking forward to automobile related fatalities to plummet. On a different note the truck drivers must hate this, another job category lost.
        honjai
        • 2 Years Ago
        @IchiroA
        this in itself is a problem. society has the natural tendency to gravitate to technology as the solution when we are the problem. rather than enable bad drivers to drive more, shouldn't we be putting appropriate standards in place to keep people off the road and training people to be better drivers? i hear that in at least one of the Scandinavian countries you need to be capable of power sliding a car before you can get a license. why are the standards in other places so low? it's a heck of a lot cheaper solution than spending billions on technology. that money could go elsewhere to solve other world problems. but alas, that's not the type of capitalist world we live in.
          BG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @honjai
          Excellent point, but that is the American way: try to design a technological fix rather than train the user to be smarter with the machine or technology. For example, why are we forced to have tire pressure monitors? Because morons would not check their tires (remember the Explorer fiasco?). Now we all pay for this "fix."
        Essende
        • 2 Years Ago
        @IchiroA
        That's the thing. On one hand you have this great technology saving human lives/being able to sleep during long road trips. On the other hand, when businesses will realize that you can totally substitute human drivers with computers, look how many people will lose their jobs. Yet again, automation will destroy another profession. If I would be any type of a truck driver/bus driver I wouldn't be too happy about this. Right now its just the beginning meant for regular everyday drivers but rest assured that this technology will be used by delivery companies. And before anyone says to reeducate/retrain yourself, what if you are fairly old and the main issue is that technology is advancing a lot faster and displacing a lot of jobs at a faster rate then humans can actually keep up with it. Its great for business owners, not so great for everyone else.
          Kris
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Essende
          Airline pilots didn't lost their jobs and flying the plain completely automated is much safer than driving the car with all that stuff around to crash into. Drivers will still be there observing the car's reactions and ready to intervene if necessary. I personally have bad experience with some bus drivers and I'll feel much more safer if I know my life is in the hands of highly sophisticated electronics rather than in the hands of suspiciously sober half idiot.
      over9000
      • 2 Years Ago
      is it possible to shift your own gears using three pedals at least?
      over9000
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW: The Ultimate Machine that Drives You
      narrowlanes
      • 2 Years Ago
      BMW, Google, et al., developing autonomous cars - who's clamoring for this tech?
        Brett Fisher
        • 2 Years Ago
        @narrowlanes
        I want this tech. 99% of my driving is absolute drivel going 71 mph on cruise control down a highway to work 60 miles each way. When I could be getting work done, reading, sleeping, gaming, watching movies, just about anything but steering my way around a bunch of iodiots who cannot use cruise control.
      snap_understeer_ftw
      • 2 Years Ago
      very cool tech I for one welcome our self-driving and submissive overlords also, debadged bimmers are always always better looking (which is why I debadged both of mine :) )
        TopGun
        • 2 Years Ago
        @snap_understeer_ftw
        Cool, sure, yet I'm not sure how you can welcome this tech AND be a driving enthusiast at the same time. When people argued for the Semi-Autos vs MTs they always had the "Well, it shifts faster thus has more performance" excuse...but with this? It's pretty hard to find something credible to say when you're not even doing the driving. The only positive I can think of is the nasty electric power steering systems will be less of a problem now. ;X
          snap_understeer_ftw
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TopGun
          how can you not be sure of that? Are you still not an enthusiast if you use cruise control? This tech is nothing but a very very advanced cruise control. Do enthusiasts not use cruise control? And the tech even acts like CC whereby it can be turned off with driver input to any system that would normally disable CC. The manual VS semi-auto conundrum is a different animal with many faces......... EPS can be made as good or better or worse than hydraulic PS too. Look at the S2000, CR-Z, R55/R56 Minis, and 991. No good sensible review has given those system bad notes. I haven't driven a 991 but the others offer superb feedback and steering weight and feel because Honda and BMW/Mini tuned the motors accordingly. EPS just happens to get a bad rap because it's new and most companies tune feel out of it (Toyota is on MAJOR MAJOR offender here on Highlander, Camry, et al.) EPS is just better than hydraulic on all fronts (weight, packaging, cost) Full Disclosure: I'm probably one of the last people on here commenting who shouldn't be called a driving enthusiast, since I do about 10 track days a year, mixed in with a ton of competitive autocrossing....and I have a sport bike, which I plan on tracking in 2012. For my daily driving, I see nothing wrong with my Auto auto but I can always whip out my manual when I want
      a.gothe
      • 2 Years Ago
      I can see the new slogan: BMW. The Ultimate (Non)Driver Machine. I wonder how Ray "The Hood" LaHood feels about this.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        John Le
        • 2 Years Ago
        I'll take 99.99% over the current statistics nowadays. People are more prone to mistakes than machine.
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