Google can put away its experimental car, claims BMW, because driverless vehicles are already here. According to the outgoing director of development at BMW, Dr Klaus Draeger, self-driving technology has been around for years.
“In some situations that are favourable, a car can drive itself today. There’s no technological problem with that,” said Draeger, the new head of supply and purchasing at BMW.
He insisted that a combination of computer-controlled brake and accelerator pedals, plus electro-mechanical power-steering, lane-departure cameras and radar cruise control, meant the core tasks of autonomous driving were already taken care of.
“Drive a premium car on the motorway, with lane-departure warning and active cruise control switched on, and it’s more or less autonomous anyway,” he said.
And BMW has more experience of self-driving cars than most. It has run semi-autonomous Track Trainer 330i models since 2007. They use cameras and a super-accurate sat-nav to help with driver training and can run at 95 per cent race pace on any given track with no driver input.