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Tap the Watch to Call Your Car

BMW shows off auto-park valet and 360-degree collision avoidance.

by on Dec.16, 2014

With BMW's Auto Park Valet, tap your smartwatch and the little i3 quickly comes to pick you up.

You’ve finished dinner on the town and are ready to head home for the night. But instead of handing the valet your ticket you tap the screen of your smartwatch and a couple moments later your new BMW i3 automatically pulls up to the restaurant door, the cabin already warm and cozy.

That’s the idea behind the maker’s Remote Valet Parking Assistant concept, one of several new technologies the Bavarian maker is developing that it will preview at the Consumer Electronics Show early next month.

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The new 360-degree collision avoidance system, meanwhile, uses a variety of scanners to prevent all sorts of collisions – making BMW the latest in a growing line of automakers to explore “the possibility of entirely collision-free driving.”

BMW, as the maker notes in an advance release, has a “long track record of experience in vehicle automation,” first demonstrating a self-driving concept vehicle in 2009 on the challenging Nurburgring track in Germany.

It plans to show off some of its latest autonomous technologies at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas.

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The concept i3 parks itself automatically.

That includes the parking valet system. Using laser scanners and other technologies, the vehicle could drop off the driver at, say a restaurant and shopping mall, then automatically search for a parking spot on its own.

“Once the BMW i3 has arrived at the parking space, the vehicle locks itself and waits to be called by Smartwatch and voice command,” the maker explains.

When it’s time to go, the concept vehicle responds to a simple command and comes back to where it dropped its passengers off.

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BMW is one of several manufacturers working on automated valet parking systems. Volvo and Ford are among those who have been developing similar technologies.

The Bavarian maker suggests that there will be a number of steps to be taken before we reach an era of fully autonomous vehicles. Among them will be the introduction of technologies that could significantly reduce the risk of collisions.

Look, Ma, no hands - or driver.

A growing number of vehicles now offer forward collision warning systems that can sound an alert if a crash is imminent, some models even applying the brakes automatically. Meanwhile, Cross Traffic Alert systems can watch to see if there’s traffic approaching as you back out of a blind parking spot.

(Death-free highways are becoming a very real possibility. Click Here for this special report.)

BMW’s 360-degree collision avoidance system is meant to take things a step further, using laser scanners  to watch for problems in all directions.

In a dark parking structure, for example, “If the vehicle approaches a wall or a column too quickly, the system brakes automatically to prevent the threat of collision. The vehicle is brought to a standstill very precisely with centimetres to spare. If the driver steers away from the obstacle or changes direction, the system releases the brakes.”

While BMW isn’t saying what its plans are for production of the new systems, manufacturers, in general, are racing to bring to market a wide range of new autonomous technologies over the coming decade.

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3 Responses to “Tap the Watch to Call Your Car”

  1. Jorge says:

    This technology has existed for many years – it’s called a BUS and it comes and picks up passengers everyday. LOL

  2. MickinMD says:

    If it only has to pull up from a couple hundred feet away, how’s it going to be “warm and cozy?”

    Instant “warm and cozy” would be nice. The other (36F) evening, returning to my car after we saw the Moscow Ballet do The Nutcracker, I took off my coat, buckled in to the driver’s seat, then put the coat on backward. I had an hour’s drive with people who I knew would be removing their coat and I wanted to be able to get mine off safely and easily while driving once the cabin heated up.

    • Paul A. Eisenstein says:

      You can pre-heat the vehicle remotely — before you summon it to pick you up — so that when it does arrive it is already warm.