BMW will exhibit its next-generation of active safety and autonomous driving technologies at the upcoming 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. One feature will help prevent collisions in parking garages, while another will let drivers park cars remotely.
The first system is BMW’s 360-degree collision avoidance feature, demonstrated on a BMW i3. BMW equipped the i3 test vehicle with four laser scanners to measure and identify the surrounding environment inside a parking structure. As the driver pilots the car, the laser scanning system recognizes any potential obstacles or barriers, such as parked cars or support columns. If the driver comes too close to the identified obstacles, the car will automatically apply the brakes, allowing the vehicle to come to a complete stop. However, if the driver begins to steer away from the obstacle, the brakes are released, as BMW has ensured that the driver retains the ability to override any aspect of this system at any time.
If the driver has a smartwatch, they may take advantage of the Remote Valet Parking Assistant. This system allows the vehicle to autonomously self-park in a parking structure, without any input or guidance from the driver. After the driver has already left the vehicle, the BMW i3 applies the same laser scanners and digital plan of the structure to navigate to an empty parking space, park, lock itself, shut down, and wait for the driver to call the vehicle via smartwatch or voice command. The vehicle calculates the distance and time until the driver’s arrival, moves to the entrance of the garage at precisely the correct time. BMW hopes to reduce the potential cost of autonomous vehicles by removing the need for supporting equipment to be retrofitted in parking structures, instead relying on the built-in laser scanners and pre-installed digital plans of the parking structure.
Look for BMW’s Active Assist Demonstration at CES 2015 beginning on January 6, 2015. For now, the technologies are in the prototype stage. Two years ago, Audi also demonstrated a self-parking system at CES, using an A7 prototype equipped with laser sensors and cameras.