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BMW self-driving car is the ultimate drifting machine

BMW demonstration of autonomous cars driving on the edge.

Self-driving cars? That’s so 2013. BMW has been showcasing self-drifting cars at CES 2014 as part of a demonstration to show just how clever its autonomous cars have become. Prepare to be impressed.

A modified 2 Series Coupe and a 6 Series Gran Coupe were let loose on the Las Vegas Speedway track, demonstrating manoeuvres like negotiating a road cone slalom, pushing the car to its limits of traction around corners and, of course, burning rubber while going sideways ─ all without any input from the driver.

BMW’s Active Assist, which makes the self-driving car possible, usually reacts to a situation with the brakes. In the two demonstration cars, however, the latest version of the system can also control the steering. It’s like a real-life Gran Turismo ─ only your life is at stake.

The demonstration is designed to show what a future BMW could do when faced with dangerous driving situations. This includes reacting to a number of realistic situations such as aquaplaning, oversteer and understeer, potentially saving the life of a driver who has bitten off more than he can chew.

The system uses camera detectors, 360-degree radar, LIDAR (laser radar), ultrasound and advanced GPS. So far, 9,000 miles of testing have been accumulated, including a 105 mile journey from Munich to Nuremberg in Germany without any driver intervention.

BMW has been testing autonomous driving technologies for some time. Track Trainer used GPS, waypoints and track layouts to make allow its cars to blast around circuits like Laguna Seca and the Nürburgring.

Quite how reliable the technology is remains to be seen, but it sure looks like the Bimmers on display can drift as well as Ken Block. That in itself is fascinating, if you ask us. Who needs human input anyway?

The technology is likely to filter down to a production BMW towards the end of 2014.

Check out the YouTube video of a BMW M235i driving itself like a lunatic below.


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