BMW tests driverless vehicles in China
German car manufacturer BMW will be using China as the testing ground for its 'highly automated' car technology, as it sees the country's multi-level roads as ideal for putting its driverless cars through their paces.
The fully automated cars will initially drive around the streets of Beijing and Shanghai to examine in detail how they react to the multi-level roads. BMW will team up with research giant Baidu to initiate the test programme and the two will work together on the research.
BMW revealed a driverless car at the Consumer Electric Show earlier this year; since then, the manufacturer has tested the technology on roads in Germany and other European countries. The concept car, which is roughly based on the 2-Series Coupe, has done well and has been able to cope with toll stations and tunnels; however, the company wants to move the project on and see how the driverless car will handle conditions in Asia.Several firms are trying to develop the idea of a car that does not need a driver. The most notable of these is probably Google, which does not have any history in the motor industry. Due to the complications involved and the safety implications, most experts agree that it will be years before a commercially viable vehicle of this type will be in the showrooms.
The technology being tested by BMW is based on an 'electronic co-pilot', which will take over from the driver to undertake monotonous and repetitive tasks but can be switched back to 'driver mode' at any time.