BMW used to advertise itself as the ultimate driving machine but we’re quickly approaching an era where drivers are no longer necessary.
The company provided a glimpse of this future at Mobile World Congress 2018 with the i3 Personal CoPilot prototype. Designed to show how “fully automated driving technology can transform the future face of personal mobility,” the i3 PCP has been equipped with an autonomous driving system that enables the car to drive itself.
BMW didn’t go into specifics but the company confirmed the car has a summon function which sends it to pick up passengers. The model also has an exterior display which greets people by their name and allows them to unlock the doors without ever needing to reach for the key.
Since there’s no need for a driver, the i3 has been outfitted with a special Rear Seat Entertainment System to keep passengers occupied. BMW didn’t say much about the system but it will apparently show the car’s current speed as well as provide access to a host of entertainment options.
While the i3 PCP is currently just a prototype, BMW said the upcoming iNext will offer a Level 3 semi-autonomous driving system starting in 2021. The automaker went to suggest the vehicle could even have some Level 4 functionally under certain conditions.
Besides showcasing the i3, BMW introduced a “digital key” which will enable drivers to lock and unlock their vehicle with a smartphone. The key can be shared with up to five people and it will be launched in July. However, the technology will initially be limited to Samsung smartphones equipped with NFC connectivity.