Will Fully Autonomous Cars Roam The Streets? BMW Doesn’t Think So

As automakers and technology companies fight each other to become the first to commercialize a Level 5 autonomous driving system, BMW remains uncertain if such technology will ever be available to consumers, Autocar reports.

Speaking during the recent Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Summit, BMW’s special representative to the UK, Ian Robertson, said that it could be difficult to permit ‘brain-off’ self-driving.

“Imagine a scenario where the car has to decide between hitting one person or the other — to choose whether to cause this death or that death.

“What’s it going to do? Access the diary of one and ascertain they are terminally ill and so should be hit? I don’t think that situation will ever be allowed,” Robertson said.

Like its rivals, BMW is working on autonomous driving systems advanced enough that they require no human input. While such systems are technically possible, it will remain up to regulators as to whether or not Level 5 autonomy will be permitted on public roads.

“If we are working towards a ‘brain off’ scenario, where perhaps we expect travellers to even sit in the back of the car and relax, then that clearly isn’t possible today, despite what some might tell you.

“Then there is the overarching consideration of the regulators that we need to consider. In the UK, the government is encouraging autonomous testing — even if some of its fundamentals go against the Highway Code, the fabric of our laws. They know we are in a race to take leadership and that opening up to testing could have significant benefits,” Robertson said.

“But I believe that in the long term, the regulators will step in and set boundaries about how far we can go. It might be to allow it only on motorways, as they are the most controlled environments.”

The most advanced production BMW ever will hit the market in 2021 with a fully-electric powertrain and what the company dubs Level 3.5 autonomy.

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  • ou95grad

    I’ve thought a lot about autonomous cars, and i think I may have figured out what the sticking point may be. Autonomous cars are run by computers. Computers do what programmers tell them to do. They are dictated by whatever logic the programmers decide on. Ultimately, it’s a very non-logical – not to mention kind of insane, when you think about it – idea to have multiple-ton vehicles going down a road 60+ mph, usually only separated by a few feet, and often passing going opposite direction. I’m not sure there’s a logical enough code that you can program into an autonomous car to make it safe enough. It’s a system that only something as non-logical as a human being could have come up with in the first place.

    • Jay

      Status will disagree with you. Then say something like v2v and v2i infrastructure will help greatly to reduce most the amount of incidents. I agree with you though. It’s ridiculous and I don’t trust it.

    • Fled

      And yet we’ve “illogically” programmed millions of planes (containing tens of millions of people inside them) to fly and land themselves each year….

      • Jay

        With a pilot in them*, they don’t do any autonomous flying without a pilot babysitting the system.

    • ashgrave

      Yeah, I used to think that autonomous driving wouldn’t happen for 100 years, then I test drove the new Model 3 and played with the autopilot; freaking amazing. Now I’m 100% down and willing to put some trust into it’s potential. Can you imagine if the 10,000 drunk driving fatalities per year went to 5 per year.

  • mihsf

    Some people are more realistic than others. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But not now.

  • Six_Tymes


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