The car can do it better than humans

A few inhibitions are already there, since the experienced motorist has a flair for it: this is becoming too scarce. If the steering angle remains the same and the BMW i3 continues around the corner, it immediately rattles the side. In the wing mirror, the brick wall comes close to the expensive carbon outer skin of the electric car, but the foot remains on the accelerator pedal and the steering wheel is turned. The cut comes just before the crunch: The i3 stops. But not because the driver wanted it that way.

The new sensors of the electric vehicle indicated an impending collision, which is why the i3 braked a few centimeters in front of the brick wall - trying to make a plastic dummy - that would have changed the side of the car. Four laser scanners on the research vehicle, two on the side, one at the front and one at the rear, detect the surroundings and detect obstacles around the vehicle.

Parking bumpers, bumper scratches, parking dents goodbye. This could even offer financial advantages in a number of ways: "Today you indicate the engine power at your insurance company, in the future which driver assistance systems will be in the vehicle" believes Moritz Werling, project manager in BMW research.

Avoiding typical human driving errors is, however, only a positive side effect: Because thanks to the new sensors that BMW is presenting at the CES in Las Vegas (until 9. January), the research vehicle i3 can also park automatically. The developers do not have to rely on the GPS signal, which is too imprecise in parking garages. Combined with a digital map of the parking garage, the system controls the vehicle independently through the floors.

The driver who has long since got out and who is spared the annoying search for a parking space activates the "Remote Valet Parking Assistant" via his smartwatch at the push of a button or voice command: "BMW Park yourself" he speaks in the intelligent watch, so "park yourself" , but finally you're here in Las Vegas. It takes a moment for the command to be processed and sent to the connected vehicle via the BMW server. Then the i3 slowly rolls towards the next free parking space without a driver.

He constantly misses his surroundings and sometimes changes course. This is particularly noticeable when you sit in the back and look over the imaginary shoulder of the non-existent driver. The steering wheel turns on its own, corrected, a little further to the right, the i3 pulls back and forth, stops, recalculates until it is all in all very confident in the parking space.

At the push of a button or "BMW Pick me up", ie "pick me up", the driver orders his car for the exit. Future parking garages could set up special pick-up areas for this and, conversely, benefit from the fact that the cars can be parked more closely without a driver. Various automakers are experimenting on automated parking, and not just in parking garages. For example, Volvo research vehicles can be directed via an app on a smartphone. So far, only one has been able to call his car with a watch and voice command: Michael Knight his car KITT from the 80 series Knight Rider.

However, both the 360-degree collision avoider and the automatic parking system remain a dream of the future. At the earliest in five years - when the first highly automated cars have been announced - the Munich-based company believes that the market will start. For example, the legal requirements for a car to drive without a driver have not yet been created. But it's also a matter of costs: Because most customers want to pay extra for comfort extras, not for more security. The practical 360 degree dent avoidance should therefore only come as a package with the automatic parking system.

Author: Hanne Lübbehüsen / SP-X

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