BMW waiting for autonomous technology to be “100 percent reliable”

Interesting | December 5th, 2015 by 32
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If you do a quick YouTube search, you’ll see dozens of videos of Tesla Model S owners driving around autonomously. Tesla recently released a software …

If you do a quick YouTube search, you’ll see dozens of videos of Tesla Model S owners driving around autonomously. Tesla recently released a software update – it’s so strange saying that about a car – for its Model S that gives the car autonomous driving functionality. Tesla owner, Elon Musk, has claimed that this technology is in beta form and is currently using Model S owners as guinea pigs for the software’s quirks and bugs. He didn’t say it quite like that, but it’s basically what’s happening.

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In many of the aforementioned owner videos, you’ll see people doing all sorts of crazy things, like being in the back seat, while no one is in the front, and having the car drive on its own. While that’s fun and all, that could have easily killed someone and is one of the least intelligent things I’ve ever seen done inside of an automobile. But there dozens of videos like this of people playing around with the Model S’ Autopilot function. In Tesla’s defense, it’s since added extra security measures to insure things like this don’t happen anymore.

Tesla’s Autopilot function is still in beta form and shouldn’t be used as a toy. Which is exactly why BMW won’t be releasing full autonomous driving technology until BMW is sure that it works perfectly. According to BMW CEO, Harald Krüger, “We can offer automated driving on the motorway up to 120 kilometers per hour,” to which he continued “But our technology must be 100 percent reliable.” This is a refreshingly responsible approach to this sort of technology. Instead of the metaphorical fist-pumping to come from Tesla about being the first to have fully autonomous driving capabilities on the road, BMW is waiting until it can be sure that the tech is 100 percent safe.

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“In the app industry, you can launch products on the market that are 70 to 80 percent ready and then complete their development with the customer,” said Kruger, “That is absolutely impossible with safety features in a car.”

And he’s right. Tesla’s Autopilot system has many bugs and quirks in it, being that it’s still in beta form. Its customers are aware of this and know that there could be some hazards to using it, but telling customers that there’s an autopilot system on the car but to only use it in perfect conditions is like giving a child matches and telling them not to burn the house down. They probably won’t burn the house down, but it’s likely something bad is going to happen.

Tesla’s Autopilot system is great, don’t get me wrong, and is incredibly impressive from a technology standpoint, but it shouldn’t be released to the public yet. In BMW’s, Mercedes-Benz’s and Audi’s systems, the driver must have a hand on the steering wheel, or at least touch it every 10 seconds or so, or else the vehicle will automatically come to a safe stop so as to not endanger anyone’s life. In Tesla’s system, no such safeguard is required, which allows drivers to get into the back seat while its moving. That’s funny and interesting, but what if something happens that the car can’t account for on its own, how is the driver going to get back into the driver’s seat and regain control of the car in time? They wouldn’t be able to and someone could die. That’s the reality of that.


Also, Tesla’s autopilot system can’t account for traffic lights. This is no problem if there are cars in front of it, as it can just follow the leading car, but if it’s the first car in a lane and a traffic light turns red, the Model S will run the light unless the driver takes over. How much fun would that be if you’re not paying attention? Or, during its automatic lane change function, where the drive only operates the turn signal and the car safely changes lanes when it can, if there aren’t clear lane markers the car will just keep on shifting over until it finds one, which can be problematic.

So for BMW, there will be no ‘beta testing’ with its autonomous functions, at least not to the public. “It starts with automatic parking without the driver at the wheel, which we already offer today in our new BMW 7 series version. The next step will be that you get out of the car in front of the parking garage and the car then looks for a space itself and parks,” says Kruger, “It will continue with automated driving on the motorway.”

While there are many detractors to what Kruger is saying, claiming that there’s no way to implement an autonomous driving function that’s 100 percent reliable without public testing, he and BMW are doing the right thing. Beta testing works great for technology such as apps, video games and more, but people can’t die when beta testing apps. Beta testing an autonomous driving function in the public can literally cost lives and BMW understands that better than Tesla, it seems.

32 responses to “BMW waiting for autonomous technology to be “100 percent reliable””

  1. Indrit Selimi says:

    The title of this article says it all. Whoever has a minimum knowledge about software and/or in general complex systems knows that talking about 100% reliability is no sense. To have it reliable would mean testing it (and yes also beta testing, hopefully with the largest base within security protocols). But we are sure that BMW will use it when…hopefully it will not have the same quality as its recent NCAP tests.

  2. Chris Llana says:

    Interesting. BMW integrates cell phone use and texting into its software—100% safe for driving? i3 regenerative braking cuts out completely at the first indication of traction loss, arguably a very unsafe condition—does BMW have a more sophisticated solution coming? BMW’s active cruise control gets spoofed under certain conditions, leading to unexpected control issues needing immediate driver intervention. Should BMW shelve all those technologies? Is there a middle ground while the technology matures?

    • rast says:

      Is not BMW problems with “under certain conditions” but it’s technology problem. Cameras, radars and others electronic have this problem. Tesla is not “car made by god” that dont have these problem. Tesla have these problems too.

      • Chris Llana says:

        My point was that Krüger stated he would not introduce a new technology unless it was 100% reliable, and yet BMW has recently introduced technologies that are NOT 100% reliable. His statement is therefore inconsistent with BMW’s actions; we can only conclude that he has other reasons for not introducing autonomous driving tech (e.g. he doesn’t want to hire the necessary personnel or spend the money to develop it).

        • rast says:

          Read text again. Kruger would not introduce new technology because: “Beta testing an autonomous driving function in the public can literally cost lives”. You say that: “BMW has recently introduced technologies that are NOT 100%” maybe yes but these technologies dont cost lives like autonomous driving. Technology like gesture-control will not cause accident while bugged autonomous software can kill someone e.g ride into the people without braking.

          • Sam says:

            BMW has similar active cruise control and autobraking functions. It still needs to be aware of the cars around and ahead of it. Even though BMW doesn’t market lane keeping technologies in the USA, I don’t think it can claim to be any more reliable than Tesla’s implementation in terms of avoiding a collision due to failure of the autobrake system to detect an impending collision and react to it. The only advancement that has produced ‘interesting’ youtube videos for Tesla was the lane keeping functions. The video where the car swerved into the other lane, the lane keeping system detected an out of bounds condition, sounded an alert for the driver to retake control, and while the driver was fiddling with his camera, a second passed with no steering control and the car moved towards the oncoming lane. Most of the other steering videos show the Tesla following lane markings towards an exit, which I hear have been working better recently.

  3. Brad says:

    The writer appears to have no experience using Tesla’s AutoPilot. I actually have experience with Tesla’s AutoPilot. Coming from a M6C, currently own a 750 and P85D, I’d have to say, BMW you’re mostly wrong. We are getting rid of our 750 the minute out reservation for the Model X arrives.

    I use AP 90% of the time on the freeway, and 100% while in rush hour traffic. There no going back, I’m never going to buy a car without this AP capability.

    Plus AP is constantly learning. It’s amazing how much better and smoother it operates around corners.

    Good luck to you BMW, call me when you wake up. I’ll reconsider in 2020.

    • It’s true, I haven’t used it personally. But there are numerous videos and reports of it behaving strangely and causing serious hazards on the road. Obviously, it’s just in beta so there will be quirks, but public roads aren’t the place to beta test, people’s lives cold be at stake. BMW is aware of this and that’s the reason for not putting the software out there until it’s 100 percent certain that it’s safe.

      There are numerous videos Tesla’s AP system behaving improperly, as evident in the videos linked in the article, and that’s not okay when people’s lives could be i danger because of it.

      • mike says:

        Thank you for this reply. Im agree with you 10000%. I think Brad is next resistant to arguments teslaboy. On youtube are hundreds of videos with tesla autopilot fails.

        • Brad says:

          A few people with fancy cameras did some stupid stuff with Autopilot but that doesn’t make it representative of the whole.

          As far as “fails” go, it’s not perfect, BMW will not get to 100% either. I can drive from San Diego to Los Angeles 90% on AP and to Vegas 99% of the way. That’s pretty damn good. When you get to your destination you’re so much more relaxed… It’s amazing.

          As for “fanboy” yeah you’re right, I’m a fan of both BMW and Tesla. I’ve owned pretty much every BMW model and yeah they’re amazing cars, if BMW and Tesla were to merge they’d rule the world. Right now I’d rather drive my Tesla.

          • Brad says:

            By the way, regarding “safe”. Consider how many accidents due to AP. I think it’s still at zero today and they racked up millions of AP miles now. That’s a pretty good statistic on it being safe.

          • mike says:

            Cameras, radars etc will never be better than human eyes. Software will never be perfect (can someone show me software with no bugs?) but i think that humans and computers must cooperate fot better results. Not enought teslas with AP are on the roads to say that it is safe. I drove 900 000 km since i have driving license and i never had accident. I can say that statistics are good for me and im safe. I dont need AP but if i will have it in future i will use it only in traffic jam or on highway during long distance travel because i like driving and i dont want to resign from this.

          • Brad says:

            That’s exactly where I use it most. I love driving and would rather drive when it’s fun. There’s a place for AP, and Tesla’s does well in those places. Rush Hour traffic and long distance travel…

            Check this article out if you want some good engineering info behind how it works:

          • Brad says:

            And here’s a driver getting saved by AutoPilot:

          • mike says:

            I did not say that autopilot is un-safe but i did say that people are safe too. There are many situations that driver avoids an accident but newspappers dont write about it because it does not sell. Newspapers need tragedy. On YouTube you can see millions of videos where driver avoid an accident e.g:

      • Brad says:

        Most things can be made to behave improperly. BMW will never have 100 percent safe software, statistically that is very difficult to attain.

    • rast says:

      You are ordinary fanboy.

  4. Andrew Alstadt says:

    This seems just like a nightmare waiting to happen. I remember reading about the google self driving cars the past few months. Although this technology is really neat I feel it will be like opening up a Pandora’s box. BMW made the right move to not allow Beta testing on its autonomous driving software until its completely safe. I still think its a pipe dream to say they will have 100% reliability when it comes to autonomous driving.

    • Keithk says:

      Nothing is 100% reliable. Is your car 100% reliable not to break down when you drive it? Are you 100% reliable not to get into accident when you drive. Fear and risk, the ever changing balancing act.

  5. Ofentse Letsholo says:

    I agree that autonomous cars will not be 100% anytime soon and as for public Beta testing that’s horror though helpful but lives cannot be lost. I think only BMW engineers should have access to the technology in their own cars for as long as they feel the technology will be public ready.

  6. […] a recent interview with BMW’s CEO, Harald Krueger, he spoke about how BMW wouldn’t be putting out this sort of technology yet, […]

  7. valakos says:

    Kruger has to acknowledge BMW self driving is crap instead of bashing the competition

  8. Johnny Le says:

    Alright. I guess BMW will never have autonomous driving cars. Too bad.

  9. Sam says:

    One fault in Kruger’s logic is when AP technology could potentially prevent more accidents than it causes. Someday, there’s going to be an autonomous vehicle crash where the technology failed – but what if in the meantime, it has prevented many accidents that an average human driver with average attention would have been involved in? We generally don’t lead by fear, but it sounds like BMW’s philosophy is one of fear – they haven’t even brought active lane centering to the USA, while Tesla, Acura, and other car makers are doing similar things. And of those cars that offer active lane keeping and following technology, many reviewers say that Tesla’s is the most refined. I think it is a fair question to ask whether the refinement of this technology would lull further driver inattention, but regardless, there are enough distractions such that many drivers of less smart vehicles aren’t paying proper attention anyways – better that the car itself pays attention as well.
    If BMW feels that they can only market technology that is 100% failproof, are they being irresponsible by withholding something (or not developing in earnest) that while not perfect could save lives? Nothing is 100%. Every car and computer is designed by humans, and has weaknesses.

    • jonas says:

      Autonomous cars have more accidents on 1 milion miles than drivers. Autonomous cars 11 accidents/1 milion miles, normal driver 8 accidents/ 1 milion miles.

  10. […] Tesla, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have all be working on their own autonomous car features. Tesla has been doing quite a lot of chest pounding over its latest Autopilot system as of late. To […]

  11. […] Tesla, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have all be working on their own autonomous car features. Tesla has been doing quite a lot of chest pounding over its latest Autopilot system as of late. To […]

  12. […] idea though is watchful until a record is so advanced that it never creates a mistake. This is a similar genius common by BMW, who recently claimed that unconstrained tech only isn’t adult to standard with a brand’s […]

  13. […] something happens [with Autopilot], it could set the technology back a decade” while BMW CEO, Harald Krüger said “We can offer automated driving on the motorway up to 120 kilometers per hour,” to […]

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