CES 2014: BMW hits the performance limits with its driverless car
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CES 2014: BMW hits the performance limits with its driverless car

2:18 /

When you think about autonomous cars, it is often in reference to the sensor technology making the car aware of objects and other vehicles around it. Here at CES 2014, BMW showed off another technology key to making autonomous cars a reality, the systems needed to steer, accelerate, and brake.

Hi. I'm Wayne Cunningham here at CES 2014. Now, driverless cars are a huge topic here at this show. Earlier this week, BMW showed me their version of a driverless car on a race track. Let's go take a look at that video now. Out on a race track north of Las Vegas, BMW put me in the passenger's seat of an M6 it's using to test driverless car systems. A BMW staffer was in the driver's seat-- although he wasn't doing much driving. We got on the track, he put it in an automatic mode, and the car started to go around the track as fast as it could. It took the turns, following a good racing line to get maximum grip through the turns and put on as much speed as it could. We went through a series of turns like that. Then, we came up to the slow one. This is a series of cones that the BMW had to negotiate. It veered through the cones perfectly, hit a chicane, and then turn through that really nicely. And then, finally, the most exciting bit of this tour was the wet corner. BMW had made one corner of the track wet. And the car went into that corner and immediately went into a sideways drift. The car, by itself, was able to counteract that drift by cross-turning the wheels, compensating before the turn until it got to the dry where it could go straight once again. The interesting about this car is it was actually using a GPS trail to find its way around the track. The purpose of this research vehicle was so BMW can test its longitudinal and latitude control systems. These are systems that actually determine how the car handles the corners just like a driver would. And they make up essential parts of a future autonomous car, especially one that could handle high-performance driving. This is an exciting day out on the car for me, and it's prettily fascinating to see how the car could handle all these high-performance situations by itself. This is the future of autonomous cars.

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