BMW Kicks Self-Driving Cars Up a Notch

Well, it was only going to take a matter of time. With the increasing popularity of self-driving cars amongst engineers, it most likely wasn’t going to be long before those cars took on more functions that typically require a human to perform — like drifting. That time has apparently arrived, as BMW has presented a new autonomous driving system on the not-yet-introduced M235i coupe in connection with the CES 2014 event in Las Vegas. notes that BMW’s latest trick is part of its intentions to make selected future models fully autonomous by the end of the decade. The video above — from BMW’s official YouTube channel — shows the car deftly maneuvering around an obstacle course of traffic cones before pulling a clean drifting movement as the camera fades out.

The hands-free service comes courtesy of a fancy, intricate computer and GPS system, one akin to that found in the latest guided-missile systems, AutoCar reports. Virtually no driving-related tasks are left to the driver: the accelerator control, brakes, and steering are all handled by the new system.


“BMW’s autonomous driving assistant is also intelligent enough to change lanes to overtake slower vehicles and then pull back in when the maneuver is completed — all without any prompting or action on the part of the physical driver,” AutoCar reports. The system has reportedly already undergone about 9,000 miles’ worth of testing at BMW’s facilities in Munich — that’s on the lower end of what an average American drives per year.

Despite the apparent advantages and successes, the current legal climate surrounding road safety makes it somewhat likely that aspects of the system won’t see production.

“It is going to take a combined effort with all key players and definitive juristic changes before the safety benefits of autonomous driving can be [realized],” BMW told AutoCar.