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BMW’s iDrive 8 brings autonomous driving closer

Revealed a company BMW unveiled a new version of the iDrive infotainment system, which has been the cornerstone of the automaker’s in-car experience over the past 20 years.

IDrive Edition 8 appears via a new curved screen that starts behind the steering wheel and extends across the dashboard.

This includes the integration of a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch central infotainment screen into a single driver-angled unit.

The automaker said: The screen size varies depending on the vehicle, but the screen will have a floating appearance.

The new iDrive system makes its debut later this year in BMW’s new electric SUV, as well as in the BMW i4 electric sedan.

BMW says: The system gets significant improvements compared to previous models, so that the computer can process 20 to 30 times the data volume of previous models, or about twice the amount of data that was possible in the past.

This can be done through the further integration of the vehicle’s sensors, which helps enable greater levels of autonomy.

According to BMW’s chief technology officer, iDrive is a major step towards fully self-driving cars, and he explained that iDrive is designed to support Level 2 and Level 3 autonomous driving systems.

The advanced driver assistance systems, defined as Level 2 by the Society of Automotive Engineers, include lane keeping, blind spot detection, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Most of the major automakers include some advanced driver assistance versions in their cars today.

Level 3 refers to highly automated driving, also called conditional automation, where the driver still needs to be able to take over the vehicle on demand.

IDrive can be controlled by touch, voice activation or gesture control, and there are three main layouts:

  • Driving: Drivers can use a dynamically changing area in the center of the information display to show individually identifiable information.
  • Focus: Designed for highly dynamic driving situations.
  • Gallery: Reduces drive content to make as much space as possible for tool content.

The company says: The BMW Personal Intelligent Assistant adapts to the individual and routine needs of the driver, making it a central operating channel for human-machine interaction.

The virtual assistant plays the role of a digital character who can engage in a natural dialogue with the driver and front passenger – similar to the relationship between humans.

Using UWB broadband technology, the iDrive system can load personal settings to the driver after he begins approaching the vehicle by sensing the ignition key or a smartphone.

There are three driving modes – Sports, Personal and Active – that control Driving functions such as: throttle, steering characteristics, regenerative braking, and body settings, in addition to interior and exterior sounds.

Navigation, parking and charging information for electric vehicles are fully integrated into iDrive.

The system includes the company’s own mapping capabilities with a new feature called Learning Navigation, where the vehicle learns and predicts the destination the driver is likely to go next, based on the driver’s personal identity.

The company said: iDrive supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly for free.

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