• BMW’s modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe went on show at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas
  • Both cars are fitted with a Lidar system,
    radar, sensors and cameras that track the
    environment, enabling them to make driving decisions
  • The cars can change lanes, slide round
    corners and even perform a slalom at high speeds without any
    intervention from the driver

By
Sarah Griffiths

07:15 EST, 8 January 2014

|

07:17 EST, 8 January 2014

The race is on to build a self-driving car that can negotiate difficult driving conditions, with auto manufacturers trialling a number of different technologies.

And now BMW has revealed it is testing autonomous cars that can slide round corners at high speeds, with the sort of precision it takes racing drivers years to perfect.

The German car company’s new prototype
cars use ‘advanced technology to demonstrate maximum safety up to the
car’s dynamic limit,’ by enabling them to negotiate turns and obstacles
at high speeds.

BMW has revealed it is testing autonomous cars that can slide round corners - or 'drift' - at high speeds, with the precision it takes racing driver years to perfect

BMW has revealed it is testing autonomous cars that can slide round corners – or ‘drift’ – at high speeds, with the precision it takes racing driver years to perfect

BMW showed off a modified 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe sporting its latest technology, at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Both cars are fitted with a Lidar system – a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analysing the reflected light – 360 degree radar, ultrasonic sensors and cameras that track the environment, enabling them to make driving decisions.

BMW showed off a modified 2-Series Coupe (pictured right) and 6-Series Gran Coupe (pictured left) sporting its latest technology, at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

BMW showed off a modified 2-Series Coupe (pictured right) and 6-Series Gran Coupe (pictured left) sporting its latest technology, at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

HOW DOES THE CAR DRIFT?

Sensors monitoring road conditions as well as picking up other data feed information to the car’s computer so that it can make autonomous decisions.

Understeer – where the car pushes over its front wheels – is controlled by ‘opening’ the steering and a sliding rear end (oversteer, which is used to drift) is caught using a carefully gauged combination of countersteering and brake inputs.

This allows a driver to slide around a corner at speed but also in safety.

The programmable electronic steering required to make this possible carries out carefully targeted and rapid adjustments such as braking at the perfect time.

These technologies, coupled with electric braking, throttle and steering control that comes with all new BMWs, means that the cars can change lanes, slide round corners and even perform a slalom at high speeds without any intervention from the driver.

BMW said: ‘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.’

The fact that the cars are able to ‘drift’ by themselves has excited motoring enthusiasts, as it is a tricky technique used by professional drivers who intentionally oversteer so that the rear tyres slip but they maintain control of the car. This move enables them to take corners quickly and efficiently.

While the technology will excite would-be racers, it could help people in dangerous driving conditions such as aquaplaning to give a regular driver the skills of an expert. Here a demonstrator keeps his hands on his lap as the car takes a corner at high speed

While the technology will excite would-be racers, it could help people in dangerous driving conditions such as aquaplaning to give a regular driver the skills of an expert. Here a demonstrator keeps his hands on his lap as the car takes a corner at high speed

The fact that the cars are able to 'drift' by themselves (pictured) has excited motoring enthusiasts, as it is a tricky technique used by professional drivers who intentionally oversteer so that the rear tyres slip but they maintain control of the car to take corners quickly

The fact that the cars are able to ‘drift’ by themselves (pictured) has excited motoring enthusiasts, as it is a tricky technique used by professional drivers who intentionally oversteer so that the rear tyres slip but they maintain control of the car to take corners quickly

‘Even when deliberately provoked into oversteer – the clearest way of highlighting a vehicle’s dynamic limit – the highly automated prototype follows its path safely and along almost identical lines time after time,’ the car company said.

While the technology will excite would-be racers, it could help people in dangerous driving conditions off the track. It would give a regular driver the skills of an expert when aquaplaning, for example.

The cars constantly factor in the condition of a road surface to respond intelligently and BMW has tested them on the famous Nürburgring circuit. 

Look, no hands! The new autonomous technologies, coupled with electric braking throttle and steering control that comes with all new BMWs, means that the cars can change lanes, slide round corners and even perform a slalom at high speeds without any intervention from the driver

Look, no hands! The new autonomous technologies, coupled with electric braking throttle and steering control that comes with all new BMWs, means that the cars can change lanes, slide round corners and even perform a slalom at high speeds without any intervention from the driver

The intelligent systems actively intervene in the direction-changing, decision-making process and BMW says its technology goes ‘a crucial step further than current systems’ that which react to the onset of understeer or oversteer with carefully calculated braking inputs, to keep drivers safely on the road.

BMW is testing the high-speed autonomous system as it believes only one that can master all driving situations will gain the trust of the public.

The cars are fitted with a LIDAR system, 360-degree radar, ultrasonic sensors, and cameras that track the environment, enabling then to make driving decisions and the driver to put his hands in the air (pictured)

The cars are fitted with a LIDAR system, 360-degree radar, ultrasonic sensors, and cameras that track the environment, enabling then to make driving decisions and the driver to put his hands in the air (pictured)

The comments below have not been moderated.

london guy,

london, United Kingdom,

44 minutes ago

i like that paint job minus the text

Completely Average,

Somewhere, United States,

1 hour ago

Just what the typical BWM driver needs, a computer that can drive better than they do.

Truth Hurts,

preston, United Kingdom,

2 hours ago

Nice i wonder if it can still drift at 30mph… thats the only speed your gonna get round Blackpool town center ! Cameras everywhere

Ian,

East Yorkshire, United Kingdom,

4 hours ago

Does this BMW have the capability to tailgate safely while automatically flashing it’s headlamps?

martin,

cheshire,

4 hours ago

I thought all Beemers had come equipped with that function (minus the ‘safely’ bit) for years 😉

martin,

cheshire,

4 hours ago

Yes BMW that’s all very well, but we all know that if (God help us) these things ever get let loose on UK roads they will come with built-in mandatory speed limit compliance, satellite tracking, facial recognition cameras so MI5 can identify the occupants, and sensors that limit you to 10mph the second the road is wet or the temperature drops below freezing!

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