When BMW says "mobility services" they're talking new technology

We told you yesterday about BMW’s new sub-brand and the new cars coming next year. The same think tank in Munich responsible for the new line is developing a wide array of new interactive automotive technology including touch screens galore and games that improve the fuel efficiency of your driving.

In a rare opportunity to venture into this secret lab, reporters from Popular Mechanics recently revealed what they discovered upon the various slabs. The things they found range from “ho-hum” to “OMG, they can really do that?”

BMW envisions a soon-to-come world in which cars will enhance not only your navigation but also your fuel efficiency. Cars that build a communion between human and machine, that can take evasive action to avoid impact and even take over if you have a seizure.

Such an incident caused a woman in Denver recently to loose control of her vehicle, careening into oncoming traffic in a horrific accident. Five people would still be breathing and a bewildered driver would breathe much easier if this technology were in place today.

Technology in the not too distant future telephones and GPS-based navigation will function hand in hand with computer chips in automotive chassis and driving systems.

The day is not too far off when after one too many libations, you wobble out into the parking lot exclaiming, “Car!” Your trusty steed will come to you just like your cherished golden retriever, though it probably won’t lick your face.

You’ll mumble something like, “Home, Jeeves,” and the Ultimate Driving Machine takes you safely to your front door.

One of these developing technologies is called Micro Pause. It will calculate lulls in your forward movement and take over the auto’s information display with CNN headlines, stock reports, weather updates, Entertainment Tonight or whatever you program in or subscribe to. It could even be the next minute in your favorite soap or telenovela.

You might even chat with nearby motorists through a new or existing form or social media. Five seconds before forward movement begins, the systems switch back, bringing your focus back to the task at hand – driving.

A system called Scan and Assist will help you move through complicated traffic patterns such as freeway lane changes and construction areas. It will also notice if another vehicle is encroaching on your space and initiate action to maintain a safe clearance.

Another advance takes parking assistance to the next level with additional sensors and input in dark or tight conditions.

The Total Emergency Control, which could have saved five lives in Denver last week, is still 10 years from commercial application, but the Popular Mechanics people experienced a real time demonstration. They were instructed to fake a heart attack while traveling 60 mph in close proximity to two other cars on a track.

The car used sensors and GPS to plot a course around the other cars, pulling over to the right shoulder, stopping with the hazard lights on and calling emergency response. Such technology could save not only the operator’s life, but also those nearby the onset of such an event.

Lastly, what if your smart key or phone could pay your toll fare, open your hotel room or even be your airline-boarding pass – not to mention locking, unlocking and even locating your car.

Ain’t technology grand?!

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