Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Will The BMW i3 Be The First Car To Drive Itself?

Ever since the i3 was first announced BMW has been promising the car will be a 'revolutionary' type of automobile. From the new Life Drive architecture to being the first series production car to employ such extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastics, plus the fact that it will be the first battery electric vehicle BMW sells, it's been obvious the goal has been for the i3 to break new ground.

However little has been said about what might be one of the most unique features the car will have; it may very well be the first car ever sold that actually drives itself! The i3 is rumored to have the following:

Adaptive cruise control with stop and go: The car will maintain a consistent distance from the car in front of it, slowing up and accelerating as it does. It will even come to a stop and accelerate once again as the lead car does.

Passive Front Protection: The i3 will detect a possible collision whether it be another vehicle, object or pedestrian and alert the driver. If the driver doesn't react to avoid the collision the car can apply the brakes itself and stop to avoid the accident.

Traffic Jam Assistant: While driving 27 mph and slower, the i3 will basically drive itself by combining the adoptive cruise control and the ability to stay centered within the markings of the lane you are in. The driver will need to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel as a safety feature.

 Parking Assistant: The i3 will parallel park itself. This isn't as groundbreaking as Traffic Jam Assistant because it is offered by other automakers, but it's good to see it there also.

Whether or not the Traffic Jam Assistant makes it to the production i3 remains to be seen. I'm sure NHTSA is going to want to really take a look at this and BMW's lawyers may even have some kind of disclaimer for the customer to sign before the system is activated. I assume some people wouldn't want to use this out of fear of it malfunctioning. Personally I'd love to have it in my i3. I can see myself using it in stop and go traffic, and even on my trips into New York City. I'd like to think it will relieve some of the stress of city driving with congested streets and frequent slowing down and then speeding up. I'd like to hear what you think so please leave a comment. Are you ready for a self driving electric vehicle yet?