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Tony O'Kane | Dec, 16 2014 | 2 Comments

BMW will showcase its latest autonomous prototype at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in January, with on-board laser scanners enabling the new i3-based research vehicle to navigate tight carparks without human intervention.

Besides being able to detect obstacles during normal driving and take evasive action, the i3's four distance-measuring lasers enable it to piece together a 3D picture of its environment and plot a path through it.

The technology is specifically designed with car parks in mind, with the driver exiting the vehicle at a building's entrance, activating the system and walking away while the car seeks a parking spot and parks itself.

Dubbed the Remote Valet Parking Assistant, the system then calls the car back to the drop-ff location when the driver issues a command via a compatible smartwatch.

The system is also clever enough to work out how long the driver takes to return to the car park, and can time its arrival at the door to sync up with the driver.

And unlike a regular valet, it doesn't judge you if you don't leave it a tip.

Why lasers? While many self-driving technology demonstrators - including those previously shown by BMW - have used GPS, signals from satellites don't work so well underground or in multi-storey carparks.

But by coupling laser scanners and a pre-loaded map of the carpark, the Remote Valet Parking Assistant can work its way through even the tightest carpark without relying on a GPS signal.

However like all autonomous technology demonstrators (and Volvo's similar self-parking tech), BMW's Remote Valet Parking Assistant is still some way off a production debut.

For now it remains just one other method of enabling a car to drive itself, with no solid timeline on when we can expect a self-driving car to pop up in a new-car showroom.

The 2015 CES opens on January 6 in Las Vegas, USA.

MORE: BMW News and Reviews

 
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