A new system called ‘ActiveAssist’ is essentially an extension of electronic stability control, where the car can briefly become semi-autonomous in demanding situations.
BMW says ActiveAssist is not an electronic ‘nanny’ but rather a system that can bring a car back into line during high-speed cornering, a sudden lane change or aquaplaning in the rain if a driver is over-enthusiastic.
As the video below shows, it's also quite handy for a dash of automated drifting. (How long until we're watching a robot racing series? - Ed.)
ActiveAssist was demonstrated around a racing circuit at the show, using a BMW 2 Series prototype.
Other new technologies include a Parking Assistant and Traffic Jam Assist along with ‘Collision Warning And Pedestrian Warning With City Brake’ (not sure if CWAPWWCB will catch on as an acronym - Ed).
Parking Assist is simply a self-parking system, but with a little more intelligence. The car finds a parking space big enough to accommodate itself, and then controls everything – even changing from forward to reverse gears in an automatic – with no input required from the driver.
Traffic Jam Assist allows fully-autonomous driving during low-speed traffic jams, providing a series of requirements are met.
The system can detect dense traffic ahead and control acceleration, braking and steering input to remain within the lane markings at speeds up to 40km/h.
The driver is required to keep their hands on the wheel, and the system is only designed to work while there is a car in front, but it is smart enough to cut in and out as speeds rise and fall, depending on traffic conditions.
The ‘Collision Warning’ system will emit a warning sound to the driver if it detects a potential collision with a pedestrian or fixed object, at speeds between 10 and 60km/h.
If the driver fails to act, the system will automatically brake in an attempt to avoid or minimise impact; similar to systems seen previously from the likes of Volvo.
Exactly when these new technologies will become available in BMW showrooms is unclear, although the German carmaker says the ‘Collision Warning’ system will be optional on its new i3 in some markets.