Interview with Michael Heimrath, BMW Research and Technology


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Prior to the Autonomous Driving 2014 – The Future of ADAS, we.CONECT spoke with Michael Heimrath, Manager Projects Connected Drive at BMW Research and Technology.

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Interview with Michael Heimrath, BMW Research and Technology

  1. 1. Interview BMW Research and Technology Michael Heimrath Manager Projects Connected Drive BMW Research and Technology / Germany Prior to the Autonomous Driving 2014 – The Future of ADAS, we.CONECT spoke with Michael Heimrath, Manager Projects Connected Drive at BMW Research and Technology. we.CONECT: What is your company’s relation to the automotive evolution of autonomous driving / ADAS? Michael Heimrath: Highly automated driving is a fundamental element of our development strategy BMW ConnectedDrive. With the vision of highly automated driving we already gain technology and methods competence that allows us to offer a suite of most modern driver assistance systems. Partially automated driving functions are already an important part on the way to highly automated driving. BMW ActiveAssist, as part of BMW ConnectedDrive, pools all the technological developments in this area. we.CONECT: According to your experience, how is the automotive industry affected by recent autonomous driving technologies and advances in drivers assistance systems? Michael Heimrath: BMW fundamentally welcomes all activities concerning highly automated driving, because this technology will only gain widespread acceptance if it is rolled out across a broad basis. When it comes to highly automated driving, our clear focus is initially on motorways, because this is where we see the greatest benefit for customers – our aim also being to effectively relieve the strain on the driver in long, monotonous and tiring driving situations, e.g. traffic jams. As a premium carmaker a design compatible integration of the system is required. we.CONECT: In which way is your company engaged with the innovations happening in the automotive industry around connectivity, automation and new systems? Michael Heimrath: As innovation leader in the premium segment the BMW Group has used its ConnectedDrive banner since 2001 to group together unique and innovative functions which link the driver, vehicle and outside world intelligently with one another. These functions enhance comfort, allow customers to experience a new dimension in infotainment and significantly improve the safety of BMW Group vehicles. To this end, BMW ActiveAssist – the package of partially and highly automated driving technology developed by BMW – will make a significant contribution to bringing the vision of accident-free mobility another step closer to reality. To further exploit the additional value of future highly automated driving functions a backend system will be an important concept element. availability of the sensors, e. g. laser scanner, in large quantities as well as their costs is today a big challenge. Furthermore the generation of a highprecision digital map is still very complex. we.CONECT: With a professional view from the outside: What do you think are the main challenges the auto industry is facing right now with respect to autonomous driving? To make a next consequent step towards the realization of highly automated driving functions in 2020 and thereafter the technical components, systems and architectures have to be developed and validated. Michael Heimrath: At present there is still no legal framework such as regulatory law, road traffic regulations, product liability in place to allow highly automated vehicles to be used in everyday road traffic. It is still very unclear who would be held liable in the event of a collision involving a fully automated vehicle. Would it be the driver – or would it perhaps be the system provider? That legal framework still needs to be drawn up. This is an important hurdle on the road to highly automated driving. In order to shape with authorities and politics the required framework for the rollout of highly automated driving functions field tests and impact studies are necessary, because society and the customers also have to be prepared for such a quantum transition. Therefore the next major goal for the BMW Group is the testing of highly automated driving functions on European motorways. Basically the technical realization is, like you see it in our highly automated driving BMW 5 series research prototype, already today possible but with disproportional high effort. The we.CONECT: Please explain in brief the issues of the presentation you will be holding at the Autonomous Driving 2014 – The Future of ADAS: Michael Heimrath: For the BMW Group highly automated driving is an essential milestone of the development strategy ConnectedDrive. Highly automated driving functions will contribute significantly to come one step closer to accident-free mobility. At the same time an important comfort gain as well as an increased efficiency will be expected. we.CONECT: What expectations do you have regarding the Autonomous Driving 2014 – The Future of ADAS? Which outcome and benefits do you expect from the exchange with participating companies?
  2. 2. Michael Heimrath: The knowledge exchange with the participants matching with my own ideas will form my benefits, which I will take back to my company. Further I do expect to public more of the BMW activities concerning highly automated driving. we.CONECT: Which question would you like to be asked regarding the topic? Is there a burning issue you can tell us about? Michael Heimrath: I would like to be asked “When do you think is a first highly automated driving BMW on the motorway?” we.CONECT: Thanks a lot for this interview! We are looking forward to a thriving event! Interview Partner: Serina Gummert and Michael Heimrath. Michael Heimrath has been working for the BMW Group since 1984. As a manager he is now responsible for the projects of connected driving. He started working in the field of mechatronics testing 30 years ago, challenged himself during his position as a manager for night design headlight testing and display systems night design, where he has also been the head of for several years afterwards regarding the cockpit integration. Job titles like function responsible, quality interieur and specialist were part of his carrier at BMW. Autonomous Driving – The Future of ADAS is a global automotive conference that discusses current challenges, brand new approaches and future trends in the area of autonomous driving. Information about the event and about we.CONECT can be found at: Contact: Dr. Klaudia Malowitz Senior Product Manager Phone: +49 (0)30 52 10 70 3 – 48 Fax: +49 (0)30 52 10 70 3 – 30 Email: we.CONECT Global Leaders GmbH Gertraudenstr. 10-12 10178 Berlin, Germany