BMW shows intersection anti-crash system

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The anti-crash technology has been fitted to BMW's 5 Series for demonstration purposes.
The anti-crash technology has been fitted to BMW's 5 Series for demonstration purposes.

BMW has developed a new anti-crash system for automobiles that prevents the all-too-common left-turn intersection accident.

Many bikers are smashed up every year by a left-turning car that either doesn’t see them or ignores them, and cuts across their lane, but with the technology that BMW recently fitted to their 5-Series test vehicle, those sort of accidents would be greatly reduced, if not totally eliminated.

The technology relies mainly on cameras and laser scanners to provide the safety net. Once the vehicle’s safety system determines the car is making a left-hand turn, either through GPS or the system’s onboard sensors detecting road markings, the cameras and lasers scan the road ahead for up to 100 meters.

Even if governments everywhere demanded this system - and that's highly unlikely - it would be years before every car and bike on the road featured it, so for now, you'd better get used to driving defensively.

If the system determines there’s a risk of a crash, but the car continues to move into the intersection, the car will automatically brake while the instrument cluster and heads-up display sound a warning and inform the driver of the reason behind the stop. This is all done without any human input – BMW’s designers figured that waiting for the driver to react would slow the rider down too much.

The system also incorporates a bike-to-car communication system to prevent crashes, which sounds faintly similar to the system from Toronto based inventor Guiseppe Pino Mileto that we reported on back in March. With BMW’s technology, the bike’s onboard transmitter communicates with the oncoming car at a distance of up to 250 meters to determine the chance of a crash; if a crash seems possible, the bike’s safety system increases the machine’s conspicuity by adjusting its mirrors and headlights. If the crash seems unavoidable, the system sounds the bike’s horn and automatically stops the car in its tracks, with the car’s gauges indicating to the driver the reason for the stop.

So, will this technology make it to the street? Even if it does, it would have to be applied to almost every truck, car, and motorcycle out there to make a difference, so don’t hold your breath waiting. And even if all vehicles carried the technology, you’d still need proper lane markings for it to work – something that is unlikely in Canada, where much of the road paint wears off every winter. For the foreseeable future, you’re still going to have to rely on caution and your survival instincts to get you through intersection traffic unscathed.

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