One common thing in science fiction films and books are cars that drive themselves. In the future, people simply jump into the seat and tell the car where to go and it drives them to their destination automatically.
We are far from fully autonomous cars for the masses, but BMW is developing a new navigation system that learns your habits to help improve efficiency that some view as a step in the autonomous direction. The BMW system is called ILENA (Intelligent Learning Navigation) and is a project underway at the German automaker right now.
The way the system works is by recording data on your typical daily commute as far as learning your route, road gradients, curves and braking points. The system also uses a camera to get a visual of your path. Once the path is learned, BMW claims the system could proactively reduce the power to your AC system to give you more power to merge onto a highway. At the same time power to the AC is reduced, the shift points for the transmission could be raised to provide better acceleration.
On a hybrid car, the system could be used to ensure that the battery is fully charged before you get into the urban portion of your drive to help reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. BMW claims that when the system is used in conjunction with its Efficient Dynamics it can save 5% to 10% in fuel consumption.
BMW's Andreas Winkler said, "Using all this information, the navigation system generates an electronic horizon which helps in energy management."
The system may be met with some concern by many motorists who feel that ILENA could be used to determine how they can drive their vehicles in certain locations.