BMW Testing Autonomous Driving in China, Ahead of 2016 7 Series Launch

Last year, BMW showcased a self-driving 5 Series in collaboration with Continental but even before that (since 2009), the company has been testing highly automated vehicle prototypes over German highways and later on European roads, trying to develop the ‘Vision Zero’ strategy. Now, the focus moves to China.
BMW 5 Series Autonomous driving 1 photo
Photo: bmw
The Asian country is currently BMW’s biggest sole market and that’s where they are pushing the newest technology right now. ‘Vision Zero’ is the strategy that hopes to achieve ‘accident-free mobility’ as we all imagine it to be.

Of course, reducing the number of human casualties on the road is only part of the goal BMW and other manufacturers hope to achieve in the future. Other interests cover the comfort and efficiency areas where improvements can still be made.

The early tests will be conducted around the metropolitan regions of Beijing and Shanghai as well as a number of other megacities across China. The prototypes used will have an electronic co-pilot that will not only take care of certain repetitive actions but it can also completely take over the control of the car.

Why China?

Apart from the fact that China is currently the biggest market in the world, they are also facing some of the worst traffic jams in history. The sudden increase in income brought along a steady grow of the number of vehicles on the road that, in turn, created the aforementioned jams. Solving this puzzle will allow the Germans to sell more cars as well as increase their popularity in the area.

Furthermore, the specifics of the infrastructure used in China present the engineers with new challenges. Whereas in Europe and Germany they had to deal with toll-booths and tunnels, in the communist country they will have to manage things like multi-level highways for example.

As we reported earlier, the G11 7 Series will be fitted with automated driving modules. That means that the research, in every corner of the world and in every situation has to be done by 2016, leaving the engineers only 1 year to fix all the remaining problems. Can it be done and will we see self-driving 7 Series on the road in the near future? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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