While one of the hottest debates coming out of CES is whether automobile manufacturers will adopt iOS or Android for their on-board computer systems, we were too busy picking our jaws up from the floor after watching BMW’s latest demo of its new self-driving car. BMW is asserting that when it comes to the rise of the machines, they’ll be Ultimate Driving Machines capable of operating themselves and, yes, drifting like they’re playing for pink slips. The German manufacturer showed off a modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe, which are capable of speeding around a race track at high speeds and sliding around corners like they’re trying to avoid a red shell in Double Dash.
In a statement, BMW explained, “The prototype can pilot its way at high speeds and with exceptional precision on a slalom run between cones, adheres to a marked out circular course regardless of the friction coefficient of the road surface and executes an obstacle-evading lane change to perfection.”
These cars mark the latest generation of BMW’s autonomous driving technology, using a LIDAR system, ultrasonic sensors, 360-degree radar, and cameras to track and map out the environment. Thanks to the electronic braking, steering, and throttle control systems that come standard on all new BMWs, these prototypes are capable of making accurate lane changes, navigating through a slalom course at high speeds, slide around corners and more — all without the driver lifting a finger.
According to Wired, BMW has been putting the new suite of systems through its paces in Germany for nearly a year now, racking up 9,000 miles of real-world driving time in cities and on the Autobahn, keeping pace with its infamous 80 mph traffic. Considering that braking is the Butterfly Effect that leads to traffic jams, switching to automated, electronic automobiles could help alleviate overstuffed roads around major metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, there’s no word yet on whether they’ll come equipped with a road rage module as well.
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