BMW Shows Off Its New Driverless Car on the Autobahn

Several carmakers have been in the news of late, showing off the latest in driverless systems. This was all started of course by Google, a non-carmaker, but an innovator to be sure. Now, high end car maker BMW has upped the stakes by not only demonstrating that it’s new technology can be used on Germany’s infamous autobahn, but cars equipped with its new system can actually pass slow moving vehicles as well. After seeing the new technology in action, AutoInTheNews, reports that BMW is moving so close to driverless systems that it’s protestations that driverless cars won’t be in use for at least ten or fifteen years begins to ring hollow.

Like its competitors, the technology used to both guide and operate a moving motor vehicle consists of components such as radar, lidar, ultrasound, video and highly detailed GPS maps to sense the vehicle’s position in relation to its surroundings. All connected to a computer of course that sends out instructions to the steering wheel, accelerator and brakes. What’s different here, says Automobile Magazine, is the confidence riders feel in the car and its system. Compared to other demo models by other makers, the BMW equipped cars feel fully realized to the extent that passengers tend to stop worrying about who is driving, and instead focus on things they would were the car driven by a person.

News of this sort is rather alarming of course, because no matter how good the new technology becomes, there will still be the issue of liability if a crash occurs. BMW, like all of the other companies demoing such products continues to pound home the notion that the driver is actually always in control, even if they are not driving. Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek points out that car makers are not generally known to invest in new technologies that they never plan to use and notes that many have voiced concerns about the viability of automobiles in the future as traffic increases to the point that many may abandon driving altogether, making their cars obsolete. Hence, the huge investments by virtually all car makers both domestic and foreign. They clearly believe that in ten to fifteen years, driverless cars will be the only vehicles on the road.

This all stems of course from the practical notion that humans are utterly fallible. They don’t pay attention, or do stupid things. They fail to notice the obvious at times, and quite often make bad decisions. Computers have proven to be far more reliable and that’s why someday soon, they will be used to drive our cars for us, because we can’t be trusted to do it ourselves.

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