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BMW Previews Advanced ConnectedDrive Technologies

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On: Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 11:34AM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW Previews Advanced ConnectedDrive Technologies

Back at the Geneva Motor Show, BMW launched the Vision ConnectedDrive. While the car was a pretty striking, retro-inspired-futuro roadster, its main emphasis wasn't on aesthetics, but on technology. The car was equipped with a variety of technological components like a three-dimensional heads-up display and vehicle-to-vehicle communications system. This month, BMW issued a lengthy presser, taking us much deeper into the innovative (and perhaps twisted) world of ConnectedDrive.

The short story, cars are going to be a whole lot more intuitive in the future. The long story...read on.

BMW engineers, IT professionals and others are currently involved in an intensive, multifaceted R&D effort to bring these technologies from concept to reality. The technologies focus on both the interior and driving aspects of the car.


ConnectedDrive systems will make driving both safer and more efficient. BMW will eventually replace the growingly common LED headlamps with laser headlamps that are more intense and farther-reaching. For night driving, systems like BMW Night Vision and Dynamic Light Spot will help drivers better identify hazards. The latter uses sensors to identify objects--say a deer--on the road ahead and then cast a spotlight directly at it so the driver is able to react.

Proactive connectivity and intelligent route planning sound to me to be micro and macro versions of the same type of systems. Both systems use traffic data and vehicle information to help you drive more safely and efficiently. Proactive connectivity uses the data to predict what's happening about two miles ahead to help you make decisions (i.e. change lanes or speed up to make the traffic light), and intelligent route planning is concerned with making your entire commute from point A to point B timely and efficient. BMW mentions that the latter could even send you an email or text message telling you to leave a little early if heavy traffic threatens to make you late.

The heads-up display will gradually increase its functionality to include what BMW calls "contact analogue displays", digital cues that are overlapped on actual features of the road ahead. For instance, a passing cue could prompt you to maneuver around the vehicle ahead.


BMW's Infotainment Assistant is framed as a personal butler that can filter entertainment and information options from various sources like radio, email, smartphone and social network accounts, bringing all the most relevant content directly to you. The system is designed to be intuitive and provide what it believes to be the most important or desired content through a "personalized radio station."

The owner will be able to fine-tune the information to make it better in the future, similar to how you can fine-tune your Pandora radio station. BMW even cites an example whereby the Infotainment Assistant could sense that you're running late and automatically email your coworkers to let them know. Or, it could let you know if an email received says that a work meeting has been delayed.

BMW also plans to open up its user interface to third-party apps. The company will review and approve all apps, but wants to increase its functionality by apps such as Google search, Internet radio, etc.

Finally, BMW is working to leverage LTE (4G) mobile connectivity to provide reliable, in-vehicle Internet.

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