Lloyd Gedye takes a tour of BMW's Munich research and development laboratory.
You wake up at six in the morning to get ready for work—your car has already been awake for 60 minutes.
No, this is not some weird science fiction movie, this is real—as the Mail & Guardian discovered recently in BMW’s research and development centre in Munich.
All the technological advancements described in this article were demonstrated before our eyes by the BMW group’s director of research and technology, Raymond Freymann, and his team.
So back to the car, which is awake before you, busy downloading your favourite podcasts and audio content from the internet so you can listen to them on your way to work.
Not only does it know what content you like, but it also knows what music you want to listen to in the morning, afternoon and evening.
On top of that it has mood-based programming so it knows what music you want to hear when you are stressed, angry, calm, happy or taking a quiet drive in the countryside.
If you like a particular song, it can programme a playlist of similar songs for your listening pleasure, using the one song as a reference.
So while you are eating your bowl of cereal, your car is making sure your driving entertainment needs are taken care of.
At the touch of a button your car reverses itself from the garage and readies itself for you to take control.
You climb in and plug in your iPod so that it can sort your music by genre, decade or geographical region, depending on how you like to listen to it.
You reach over and turn on the state-of-the-art traffic management system.
In a matter of minutes your car has processed hundreds of data inputs and can tell you where the traffic jams are and what the best route to your work will be.
As you approach a red traffic light, the car will gauge whether you have noticed that it is red and warn you if you haven’t.
If it’s green and another driver is about to jump the traffic light, your car will automatically flash its lights at that driver, warning him and you.
Your car will also warn you if a pedestrian steps into the road in your vicinity.
If a car is driving down the road on the wrong side, you will be warned about this too.
In fact, your car talks to everything nowadays, and everything talks to your car, whether it’s a traffic light, another vehicle or numerous online sources of information that need to be filtered to make your driving experience as easy and carefree as possible.
At some point in your journey you will need petrol. No problem. Your car will tell you which petrol station is offering the best price.
Not much help for South Africans with regulated fuel prices, but for the rest of the world, this is a big plus.
As you arrive at work your car will find a parking spot and, if you wish, it will park itself.
Unfortunately, a great deal of this technology is reliant on the car accessing the internet. These features, which are already available on some BMWs, will not be available in South Africa because of broadband problems.