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One of the cool new options coming on the car is a 'tactile feedback' based steering system called "Active steering".

It works similar to the iDrive or a vibrating joystick on your computer.

BMW Active Steering...takes a revolutionary approach: A planetary gearbox...allow(s) a small electric motor to either increase or reduce the steering inputs from the driver." What this system means for the driver is more stability at higher speeds and easier steering at lower speeds.

Other technologies that could make it in to the next generation 5 are listed in the article below...

BMW Group Presents Intelligent Driver Assistance Systems

Establishing a perfect interplay of well-trained drivers and intelligent driver assistance systems, the BMW Group intends to enhance safety on the road to an even higher level than ever before. Following this premise, the driver always retains full responsibility for his action – driver assistance systems are intended to support him as effectively as possible, but not to override his commands. "This is the most effective approach so far in optimizing the safety potential of man and technology", states Professor Raymond Freymann, Director of BMW Group Vehicle Research.

Drawing the necessary conclusions in light of this challenge, the BMW Group is not only promoting the process of technical development, but also taking the professional training of motorists very seriously in the context of BMW Driver Training. And in developing new driver assistance systems, the BMW Group is following the ConnectedDrive concept, creating an even closer network of the driver, the car, and their surroundings, without taking the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver. ConnectedDrive is like a virtual co-pilot giving the driver optimum support in every situation while taking all relevant information and data into account.

The BMW Group's vehicle researchers have developed various innovative assistance systems based on the concept of ConnectedDrive. These systems support the driver through sophisticated sensors, for example in choosing the right speed in all situations (active accelerator pedal) or in warning the driver in ample time of the dangerous risk of sudden sleep (alertness monitor).

A further highlight of BMW Group vehicle research is the Parking Assistant, which measures parking spaces while the car is passing by and tells the driver whether they are large enough for his vehicle. Parking Assistant even helps the driver maneuver his car into a parking space with the right steering angle.

Last but certainly not least, BMW is presenting innovative light technologies such as Adaptive Headlights and pixel light, which significantly enlarges the driver's field of vision to provide a considerable improvement in active safety.

BMW Driver Training: Well-trained motorists for much greater safety on the road

Professional motorist training is an important activity pursued by BMW in order to increase safety and driver superiority on the road. To meet the latest and most stringent demands in road traffic, BMW has been offering the conscientious and responsible motorist Driver Training for 25 years, with BMW being the first car maker back in 1977 to live up to the particular responsibility of enhancing not only the active and passive safety of the automobile, but also the standard of driving skill, with professional Driver Training courses being offered to motorists.

With the human factor remaining in the focal point of all driving activities on the road, BMW Driver Training comes in precisely here, contributing a quarter of a century's experience. BMW Driver Training enables the motorist to recognize dangerous situations on the road in ample time, avoiding such a situation from the outset or, whenever necessary, preventing accidents by the right kind of maneuver. Today more than 15,000 people in Germany alone participate in BMW Driver Training – and the trend is pointing up.

Active accelerator pedal: Intuitive driver assistance system for efficient driver support

Intelligent driver assistance systems give the driver intuitive support. A good example is the active accelerator pedal, one of the projects based on BMW's ConnectedDrive philosophy.

The active or touch-effect accelerator pedal operates according to a very simple but ingenious principle: Whenever the driver exceeds the reasonable speed level in a given situation, the accelerator pedal exerts gentle counter pressure, "telling" the driver directly on his foot that he should adjust the speed of his car by giving him the message at exactly the right point.

This intuitive process of passing on information makes sure that the driver is not swamped by too many optical and acoustic signals or messages. And the request sent to the driver to reduce his speed may come from various sources such as the navigation system operating in conjunction with digital information on a navigation DVD with exact data on the course of the road, the radii of the bends coming up, on roads leading into and out of built-up areas as well as speed limits. Short-, middle-, and long-range radar sensors at the front of the car, in turn, provide important information on the immediate surroundings of the vehicle: Should a radar sensor detect a vehicle driving ahead at low speed, slight but nevertheless clearly noticeable counter pressure on the accelerator pedal makes sure that the car does not get too close to the vehicle ahead.

The philosophy of ConnectedDrive is to maintain the driver's responsibility at all times. The driver is therefore able to override the active accelerator pedal whenever necessary – the active accelerator pedal serves as a reminder, but does not give the driver any commands. When overtaking, for example, the driver can easily override the active accelerator pedal whenever he wishes.

Keeping the driver wide-awake: Alertness Assistant against sudden sleep at the wheel

The BMW Group's vehicle researchers are testing a system intended to reduce the risk of sudden sleep often affecting the driver for a few seconds. A study conducted by the General Federation of the German Insurance Industry shows that such cases of sudden sleep are responsible for 24 per cent of all fatal accidents on German Autobahns. Now an alertness assistant developed by the BMW Group and Würzburg University in cooperation with Bosch is able to determine how alert or tired the driver of a car is at any given point in time.

Monitoring the frequency and speed of eyelid movements as well as the degree to which the driver opens his eyelids, an infrared camera determines how alert or tired the driver is. A person who is wide-awake does not move his eyelids that often, but when he moves them such movements are very quick. The more tired we become, on the other hand, the more frequently we move our eyelids – but these movements become slower as we grow more tired.

The computer algorithms applied by the alertness assistant apply this data in order to determine the driver's current level of alertness or fatigue. As soon as the system determines that the driver is growing tired (or is tired already), it immediately gives him the appropriate information by way of an optical alarm. The objective of this research project is to detect any safety hazards resulting from fatigue as quickly as possible, thus preventing any risks or subsequent danger by prompting the driver to act accordingly.

The BMW Group distinguishes between four levels of alertness or, respectively, fatigue: Stage 1 = wide-awake; Stage 2 = alertness limited; Stage 3 = tired; Stage 4 = sleepy. Drivers in the last of these states, that is sleepy drivers, may well go to sleep either for a few seconds or completely at the wheel of their car.

The system currently being tested gives the driver information from the alertness assistant by way of an optical alarm. As long as the system "sees" that the driver is awake (= Stage 1), two green diodes remain switched on. If the driver's alertness is limited (= Stage 2) or if he is tired (= Stage 3), one or, respectively, two yellow diodes will come on. As soon as the driver becomes sleepy (= Stage 4), finally, he is warned by two red light-emitting diodes informing him that he is in acute danger of falling asleep at least for a few seconds. Conceivably, an additional acoustic warning could be integrated in the system, which would be triggered as soon as the driver becomes sleepy.

Parking Assistant: Enabling you to park your car with maximum convenience and safety

The Parking Assistant allows safe and comfortable parking even in small and confined parking spaces. The system incorporates a sensor fitted in the rear bumper on the right-hand side of the BMW ConnectedDrive X5 research vehicle. Signals from this sensor determine the beginning and end as well as the width of a parking space while the research vehicle is driving by, the system then informing the driver whether the parking space is large enough for his car. If this is the case, the driver can stop, shift to reverse and activate the Parking Assistant. Then all he has to do is give gas and the Parking Assistant will automatically turn the steering at the best point, guiding the vehicle into the parking space along an ideal line, with an electric motor ensuring optimum steering precision.

When, in this process, Park Distance Control (PDC) tells the driver that he cannot go back any further, the driver can stop the car the usual way. The Parking Assistant will set the steering wheel and the front wheels to an appropriate position at this point, allowing the driver to shift to a forward gear and park the car perfectly in the middle of the parking space.

During the entire process of parking his car, the driver can take his hands off the steering wheel and concentrate fully on giving gas and applying the brakes. This not only ensures extra comfort when parking, but also allows the driver to concentrate entirely on his surroundings. And naturally he is able to regain absolute control of his car whenever he wishes.

Adaptive Headlights: Extra safety in the dark

Another innovative driver assistance system – Adaptive Headlights – is scheduled to reach series production soon. This system points two headlights connected to the steering along the course of the road ahead, giving the driver a better and safer overview of the road ahead when approaching a bend and when in the bend itself.

The Adaptive Headlights are in a position to swivel round a bend up to 15° both right and left, thus considerably improving illumination of the road ahead.

This "intelligent" light system is masterminded by data available in real time, covering the car's current steering angle, its yaw rate and road speed. The algorithms developed by BMW thus control the light beam according to the driver's commands, geared in each case to the respective situation on the road and the speed of the car.

Enhanced to an even higher standard, Adaptive Headlights light uses additional data provided by GPS satellite navigation and digital road maps presenting all curve radii in the area covered and thus enabling the Adaptive Headlights to illuminate curves with optimum brightness and light intensity even before the driver starts to turn the steering wheel.

Light from - and for - the future: BMW pixel light

The revolutionary pixel headlights provides a brand-new standard of ultra-precise light distribution. "We see pixel headlights as the third stage of BMW's lights technology following the bi-xenon module and Adaptive Headlights. This is not only an intelligent, but also a free programmable headlights technology", states Dr Martin Enders, BMW Group Director of Lights Technology.

The basic principle of the pixel headlights is the same as in a regular video projector: Contrary to conventional headlights where a large element bundles the incoming light and focuses it in the desired direction, pixel headlights are based on DMD (Digital Micro mirror Device) technology.

A DMD chip incorporates 480,000 minute micro mirrors taking over the function of a conventional reflector. Light from the beam is diverted by these micro mirrors and transmitted to the road ahead. Each micro-reflector representing one pixel can be controlled and moved individually by means of computer circuits. This provides brand-new, unprecedented functions such as anti-dazzle permanent high-beam illumination, with the beam being cancelled out in the area around the eye and vision lines of a motorist coming the other way. Further advantages are the particularly bright illumination of road markings and the projection of navigation as well as warning messages straight on to the road ahead.

In the first phase of development, pixel headlights will be used as an additional element supplementing conventional light systems. In this case the standard front headlights will ensure the necessary illumination of contours to the side, whilst the pixel lights beam will serve at a spotlight illuminating specific areas more brightly whenever required.

Then, going beyond this interim step, pixel lights will be used subsequently to provide all the illumination required at the front – offering a wide range of applications for a significant improvement of both motoring comfort and road safety.

Reserving your parking space online: ConnectedDrive research cars in the City of Cologne Information Project

Together with the City of Cologne and other partners in industry, the BMW Group is participating in the City of Cologne Information Project with two ConnectedDrive research cars – a 5 Series and an X5. The purpose of the project is to maintain mobility in densely populated areas also in future and at the same time to reduce the burden on urban traffic.

This concept is made reality by networking parking information services, parking reservation options, information for motorized individual transport and public transport, as well as a comparison of travel times.

To transmit data with optimum efficiency, these BMW research vehicles use a GPRS mobile radio link forming a network with mobile online services on a special BMW server. The server then enables the driver of such a research vehicle to reserve parking space in the project car park and to request electronic parking tickets when parking by the roadside.

Using Bluetooth connections, the 5 Series and the X5 are able, in the City of Cologne Information Project, to download data to a PDA after parking in order to provide a reliable pedestrian routing service. Ultimately, therefore, the system relieves the driver of virtually all the inconvenience of looking for parking space in heavily congested urban areas.

Cinema in the car: Laser projection

When laser projection enters the automobile the passengers at the rear will enjoy a completely new cinema experience: Using mirrors and screen projections, this high-tech laser system generates a picture seemingly hovering in space for the viewers sitting on the rear seats. The picture is generated by three superimposed lasers in blue, green and red, and a mirror moving electromechanically generating a brilliant color picture by means of the light beam.

With the exception of the viewer mirror inside the passenger compartment, all the technology required is housed out of sight in the roof lining.

This technology allows the projection of pictures in various scales and at different points in the passengers' field of vision. For research purposes BMW has now for the first time equipped a 7 Series sedan with laser projection technology, where it is being tested in all its features.

BMW networks your car and your home

Providing the services of an online 7 Series, BMW is making an important contribution to the Future life Home Project in Switzerland. In the project the internet-based services of BMW Online already available today are being enhanced for test purposes by an additional item on the menu. The inhabitants of the Future life House now have access to various functions in their home also from their car via the BMW Online portal.

BMW's objective in this cooperation with Future life is to study and test the everyday qualities of systems networking the car and one's home.

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