back to article BMW tests laser-guided car junction buddy

BMW has developed a laser-guided accident avoidance system to safely guide drivers out of junctions where they cross a traffic lane. You know: you're at a T-junction, turning right. That manoeuvre will put you at risk from cars approaching from the right. That's no problem if you have a clear view. BMW's system is designed to …


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  1. OldBiddie

    Alternatively ...

    ... you could just learn to drive properly :/

  2. TeeCee Gold badge


    "...left-turn lane - detected using the GPS system combined with a camera that looks out for appropriate on-road lane markers..."

    "...a safety feature, BMW said, essential if the driver is not turning left...."

    Or, they could have just linked it to the indicator stalk. That way it would; a) both work when turning left on the continent and right in England, b) not slam the anchors on just 'cos you didn't blip the throttle when prompted, c) not depend on having bang up-to-date GPS maps at its disposal and d) not fuck up catastrophically due to lane closure / contraflow / other temporary road change.

    Sometimes the overly complex technological solution is the wrong one and trying to build something that can second-guess whether or not the driver is / is not intending to turn just seems like one such to me.

    1. Dale 3

      linked to the indicator stalk

      There is no point linking anything to the indicator stalk in a BMW.

      1. NightFox


        Damn, you beat me to it!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Sooty


      not everyone uses their indicators when turning, or just flips them on halfway around the turn. These are the people most likely to need this too!

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Come on - read the article

      This is BMW drivers we are talking about.

      Mine's the one with the Volvo keys in the pocket.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        ..the curse of bikers everywhere...immediately recognisable by their signature disturbances in the force as they sail by, blind zombie driver at the wheel...

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Good thing

    it's been designed to detect pedestrians - Oh, wait. It hasn't.

    So now BMW drivers will fly round corners safe in the knowledge that they'll only hit something squishy.

    PS -Yes I read the speed limitation on the system.

    PPS - Yes I realise that this is no different from many BMW/Audi drivers at the moment.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      Or alternatively,

      They could make the system more assertive. Add a code line like:

      if(EnterCrossing && HasPriority) then (SoundHorn, FlashHeadlights, RevEngine) else (brake);

  4. lIsRT


    Putting a line in the code like:

    while(isObstacle()) laser_power++;

    would be more impressive.

    (requiring better lasers and a Mr. Fusion style power source, obviously)

  5. Gideon 1


    The aviation industry had this solved years ago: Traffic Collision Avoidance System.

    GPS based collision avoidance systems fitted to all new vehicles and motorbikes would cover most potential situations, leaving the cameras/lasers to look out for pedestrians or vehicles without the system fitted. Bikers would have a strong survival interest in fitting it to their bikes.

  6. John Sturdy

    An earlier approach

    I found a book on learning to drive from the 1930s or so (when 3-speed gearboxes were the norm). It said `It is not usually necessary to slow down for junctions; sounding your horn should suffice'.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      GPS based road traffic avoidance?

      Can you imagine the chaos when you drive into a tunnel???

    2. Anonymous Coward


      sno no problem in a heavily built up area, or when the object is +/- 10m from where it thinks it is, or when it thinks your driving up an field, or on the wrong side of the motorway or, or , or.....

      Avioding a plane 50km away is slightly different than a car 5m away.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Small distances

      "The aviation industry had this solved years ago: Traffic Collision Avoidance System."

      I recall a James May program from years ago where he said that self driving cars were simple to implement. His argument was that such a system existed for aircraft and that was much more complicated than road traffic. He was wrong (as he often is) and so are you.

      The distances involved with aircraft are huge compared to those for road traffic, a near miss is measured in miles for aircraft. It's inches for road traffic. At the level of proximity for road traffic the levels of accuracy of GPS would be absolutely useless.

      Not only that, but when you get down to the distances involved with road traffic you are relying on nobody doing anything stupid. Some numpty can pull a sudden manouevre that would not be an issue with something like TCAS. If plane changes direction it's miles away so the system has time to take it into account, if a car suddenly changes lane it could be feet away. You may argue that with every vehicle equipped with this system it wouldn't be a problem since the driver would not be allowed to pull his sudden lane change, but how do you propose to achieve that? How long would it take to retro fit it to every vehicle on the road? How much would it cost to do that ehicles wouldn't take it? In the real world it just isn't going to happen. And then there's all the road users that couldn't use the system. Cyclists, pedestrians, horses, etc.

      Sorry, but our roads are much more complex than air traffic in terms of collision avoidance.

    4. Gadgetboy

      Hmmmm slowing down, I've heard of it

      I suspect that has more to do with the so called 'braking systems' on such cars than anything else. From flat out (40mph) in 3rd gear in my 1930s car I have the stopping distance of a supertanker.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Use Cases

    "essential if the driver is not turning left but pulling over out of the way of an emergency vehicle..."

    Or any of many other possible scenarios.......

  8. Ralthor


    I am constantly amazed at the number of people who are jealous of my epeni.... um I mean BMW.

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Can is be 'modded' to:-

    Slam right into the plonkers who drive Audi's and Merc's? You know the ones with those silly rows of lights on the front. The one who's driver think that those driving lights are all they need when driving along a country lane at 02:00hrs?

    Twice in the past month I encountered these plonkers. Luckily, my Swedish Tank (Saab 95 Estate) has saved my bacon.

    Grenade for stuffing up their exhaust pipes.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Whenever you read about one of these systems there are two things mentioned.

    1) That the system will work out what's going on from GPS


    2) That the system will work out what's going on by some sort of intalled infrastructure (markers, transponders, etc.)

    There are three massive problems here; GPS is not accurate enough to say with any certainty what lane you are in; anybody using a sat nav can tell you how often the mapping data is out of date; and there will be a massive cost involved in installing and maintaining all the infratructure.

    So before we get down to the fairly simple task of developing the in vehicle systems we need to work out a system to make sure the mapping data is up to date and secondly work out who is going to pay for the infratructure.

    Only this morning I encountered a junction where the right turn lane was coned off (to protect the invisible workforce, natch) and drivers were having to make right turns from the straight on lane. How would this system cope with stuff like that?

    The real problem is what used to be known as Volvo syndrome. Some drivers/riders will automatically assume they are protected by this system and won't concentrate too hard on the traffic. All it takes is for it not to know about one junction and you'll have dead people all over the road. I recall an American traffic engineer saying that roundabouts were a great idea, until you put people on them. The same applies to a system like this, it's a brilliant idea until you involve human beings.

  11. Alan Jenney

    Detects road markings?

    So, this avoidance system will be triggered by road markings.

    Well, in that case we had better fund a multi-million pound investment by each Local Council and the Highways Agency to paint all the barely-visible lines back in. At almost every junction I see, the give way lines and centre lines have been worn away.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    Just drive an armoured vehicle, like I do....

    Quarter inch steel tends to win against nearly everything on the roads.....

  13. Patrick O'Reilly


    "That's no problem if you have a clear view. BMW's system is designed to step in if you don't."

    So the system works if the driver doesn't have a clear line of sight. But seeing that the driver and the car occupy the same space, and lasers travel in the same straight lines that we see with, surely, the laser thing-a-me-bob can't see either.

    1. ChrisC

      Sorry, you LOSt me there...

      Are you suggesting that you drive around with your head resting on the front bumper of your car? That's the only way your LOS would equal that of the lasers. If, as most of us do, you prefer to keep your head inside the cabin, then those several feet of separation between where your eyes are and where the laser system is can make a big difference.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    I'd like to see how this system copes with bikes. Both fleshy and dead dinosaur powered versions.

    Bikes lanes, under-taking, overtaking, filtering, sudden movements etc. In short - chaos.

    Having said that, a system which stops car overtaking, then immediately turning left into supposedly invisible cyclists at junctions (UK) is a good thing.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Graham Marsden

    The expression S.M.I.D.S.Y...

    ... or "Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You" will now be replaced by S.M.M.L-G.A.A.S.D.S.Y or "Sorry Mate, My Laser-Guided Accident Avoidance System Didn't See You".

    Of course what both still mean is that the idiot behind the wheel didn't bother to make proper observation when pulling out of the junction.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Given that you are supposed to be able to read a numberplate who's letters are 3" by 2" at a distance of 65 feet I think that anybody using the SMIDSY excuse should be automatically fined and have points added to their licence for driving with defective eyesight.

  17. Markus Imhof

    Hmmm.... anyone for ECM?

    Electronic CounterMeasures for cyclists. Just find out the frequency and modulation of the laser (and if more than one car uses that system at any given time, it will need some form of ID tag in that modulation), then send some confusing signals from your own OBU.

    Simplest would probably just be to swamp it (and hopefully make it fall back into some safe mode - like 'lock the brakes' ;-) ), but put a little more effort into it and you probably could convince the receiver that either the road was clear (while that truck that just passed you is speeding on towards the intersection) or that a truckload of bricks is coming along (while in truth just you and your bike want him to clear the way).

    Sounds like an opportunity for some fun.

  18. Gideon 1


    ...uses a combination of GPS and radio signal time-of-flight transponders. While the distances involved with road traffic are far less than aviation, the speeds are far less too. GPS and radio transponders can update many times per second. As I said, it's all been done before.

  19. Nexox Enigma

    And I wonder why no new cars appeal to me...

    Every irritating little safety device I see like this pushes me just a bit closer to buying a pre-1975 Datsun or something. Just a couple gauges, 3 pedals, and a shifter, which is all you actually need to drive. I can take car of signaling, looking, and now plowing into oncoming traffic all by myself.

  20. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Frikkin' Lasers on a BMW?

    Get the idiots to drive propelrly, THEN give 'em the toys!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    the gas pedal is tapped

    or accelerator as it's called in English

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