In addition to the list of exciting new cars set to debut for BMW this year, Autocar UK has reported that the German carmaker is also preparing to showcase a self-driving concept in 2016. The company celebrates its centennial this year and is expected to launch and showcase a bunch of new cars which should include the BMW 1 Series sedan, 9 Series, M2, X4M and M4 GTS in addition to other facelifted models.
Ian Robertson, Head of BMW Marketing and Sales, recently spoke about the progression of the automotive industry towards a more autonomous future and confirmed that the German company itself intended on unveiling its latest technological update in the said field. He said," We've reached the 'feet off' phase of autonomy and now we're in the 'hands off' and 'eyes off' phase, but only for brief periods. The next phase will be 'brain off', but while the technology could be there in, say, 10 years' time, other factors probably mean it's 15 years away." The company hasn't officially stated its intentions for 2016 regarding its autonomous technology but given the comments made by Robertson, the unveiling of a self-driving concept seems likely.
Autonomous technology has seen vast improvements over the last couple of years with several carmakers like Audi and Jaguar now offering semi-autonomous functions on their next-generation cars. Many companies are also testing fully autonomous mobility concepts in controlled environments and despite the creation of successful concepts, such technology has not yet garner enough confidence to replace the current generation of driver driven vehicles. This being said, the newest generation of fully automated cars have been tested extensively on public roads and are expected to go on sale sometime by the end of this decade.
BMW itself has been involved with the creation of self-driving cars since 2011. The company recently partnered up with Chinese web services giant, Baidu, to create a self-driven BMW 3 Series equipped with the Chinese company's AutoBrain software. The car has already been subjected to a series of intensive road tests on public roads and has so far been reported to have performed admirably. The German carmaker also unveiled an autonomous BMW i3 at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, although a spokesperson did admit that self-driving cars were far from becoming viable everyday products.