BMW’s self-driving cars of the future will have 3D vision

Don’t assume self-driving cars will be the only autonomous vehicles on the road. BMW Group selected Magna’s solid-state lidar for future autonomous vehicle platforms, according to a news release. That announcement also may portend self-driving motorcycles, scooters, and even limousines.

For autonomous technology to be more than just a driver assist function, the system needs continuous, precise awareness. Trustworthy self-driving vehicles must sense the environment and road conditions as well as all other moving and still objects with extremely high degrees of accuracy.

For starters, autonomous cars need to prove they’re safer than human drivers. Autonomous vehicle controls with better judgment than some people display with current driver assist technology will be a tremendous relief.

Magna will collaborate with Innoviz Technologies to supply solid-state lidar components to BMW. Magna’s own complete autonomous MAX 4 platform uses the same solid-state lidar for vehicle vision, but the agreement with BMW Group is for Magna/Innoviz lidar only.

“Our strong system capability and expertise at the fundamental vehicle architecture level gives us the ability to provide scalable solutions for different levels of autonomy,” said Kelei Shen, president of Magna Electronics.

Other than the significant exception of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, lidar is the hands-down consensus choice for Level 4 vehicle autonomy and above. With a Level 4 autonomous vehicle, you can read books, watch movies, play games, or take a nap with confidence you’ll arrive at your destination safely.

Lidar bounces light waves off objects to determine their position and distance. Lidar can pinpoint position to a 4-inch circle. Four inches of precision isn’t tight enough for brain surgery, but it’s more than ample for vehicles and far greater than what’s possible with cameras or radar. Multiple lidar bounce-backs enable 3D vision. By incorporating lidar arrays in solid-state electronics, size and cost will be cut drastically.

Magna made no statements about whether BMW Group will use Magna/Innoviz solid-state lidar exclusively in its forthcoming autonomous vehicles or if the light-bouncing tech will work in conjunction with radar and cameras. Magna’s MAX 4 utilizes lidar, radar, cameras, and ultrasonic sensors to signal the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) central computing module.

BMW Group’s brands include BMW cars — including i and M variants, Mini and the John Cooper Works sub-brand, Rolls Royce, and BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle brand.

You may be able to visualize a driverless Rolls Royce Phantom cruising through town, but how about an autonomous BMW touring motorcycle? No one’s saying BMW is developing self-driving motorcycles, but adding vehicle autonomy and self-balancing technology to the two-wheelers would go a long way toward removing safety concerns.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: inflatable backpacks and robotic submarines

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

This robot arm could soon recharge your electric car, no driver effort required

Researchers in Austria have developed a smart robotic charger that can automatically plug itself into any electric vehicle, no driver effort required whatsoever. What could be simpler?
Cars

Apple Car may make its debut in the middle of the next decade

Apple likely won't become a full-fledged manufacturer like General Motors or Ford, but the tech giant is diving into the auto industry pool. Here's everything we know about the company's automotive efforts.
Cars

2019 Ford Ranger online configurator launched, pricing revealed

The 2019 Ford Ranger midsize pickup truck starts at $25,395, but a fully loaded version can top $40,000. The Ranger is making its return to the United States after a seven-year absence.
Cars

Ford’s Mustang Cobra Jet strikes as quickly as its venomous namesake

The 2018 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet is a purpose-built drag racer that will run the quarter mile in around eight seconds, according to Ford. It will be as rare as it is quick, with just 68 cars planned.
Product Review

Grins come standard: Mazda's 2019 MX-5 Miata will plaster a smile on your face

We take Mazda’s updated 2019 MX-5 Miata on a road trip from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco to experience the updates. With a revised engine and more power, the already awesome Miata gets even better.
Smart Home

Kroger supermarket chain tests driverless grocery deliveries in Arizona

Kroger and autonomous delivery innovator Nuro began a pilot program in Scottdale, Arizona, for grocery home deliveries with Prius cars to test the self-driving concept. The first tests do not use the purpose-built Nuro vehicle.
Cars

How to watch Formula 1 online

There are plenty of Formula 1 races every year, many of which take place in some of the most beautiful cities in the world. Check out our brief guide on how to watch Formula 1 online, if you're looking to keep up on the action.
Cars

Whistleblower says a drug-peddling Mexican cartel thrives in Tesla’s Gigafactory

A former Tesla employee says the firm covered up links between some of its workers and a Mexican drug cartel, spied on its employees by wiretapping their phones, and failed to report a $37 million theft. Tesla denies the claims.
Cars

Redesigned 2019 Subaru Forester crossover starts at $25K, hits showrooms in fall

The 2019 Subaru Forester hits showrooms this fall with more tech than ever, including a system that uses facial recognition to detect driver fatigue. Pricing starts at $25,270, but goes up to $34,295 for the top Touring model.
Cars

Lack of domestic battery production could short German automakers’ EV plans

As automakers ramp up efforts to produce more electric and hybrid vehicles, this has increased the demand for battery production. However, analysts fear some companies could struggle with this demand, specifically German car companies.
Cars

Diesel isn't evil! The best diesel cars on the market do it right

When done right, a diesel engine remains an excellent option for buyers who want to save gas. Modern diesel engines are smoother, peppier, and more efficient than ever before. Here are our current favorites.
Cars

Nvidia ‘more than happy to help’ if Tesla’s self-driving chip doesn’t pan out

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the intention to use an in-house Autopilot chip, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang responded to an analyst's question, saying that if the Tesla chip doesn't work out, he'd be more than happy to help.
Cars

A bit of patchwork can have you back on the road

Flat tires often come at the worst possible time. Whether you're fixing a flat tire or replacing it, our step-by-step how-to guide will help you get your car back on the road with time to spare.