The nerds from BMW have united for BMW's Innovation Days Event. These are no ordinary nerds... These are nerds from Germany, one of the most pedantic and precise countries in the world. The event was held at BMW's Technology Development Hub or FITZ as they like to call it, in Munich. And boy did they come up with some intriguing stuff.
I must say they are one of the smartest boffins around; the kind who disregard the IQ test as a measure of intelligence and would consider dreaming as working. For instance, a group of BMW fellas will gather round to discuss which colour temperature for the LEDs will work best in the interior of a 5 Series BMW. Another bloke spent 15 years of his life designing the perfect air-conditioning system. That's what I call dedication. And its no wonder why BMW's are priced the way they are considering that much time of a guy's life was taken just to design that air-conditioning system in your car and the LEDs which blend seamlessly into the soothing ambiance of your car at night.
These innovations are being developed with the aim of greener, safer and more efficient motoring. One new idea that the rocket scientists have come up with is a 'Smart Traffic Control System' which in essence, means that your car can 'talk' to other cars and can adapt to traffic conditions. This system can also be used for stop-start ignition systems which have recently appeared in some cars like the Mini Stop Start and the Smart FourTwo MHD. However, the most obvious implementation of this system is in hybrids where the engines actually shut down while the car is stationary, like at a traffic light.
The BMW blokes aren't done yet. "Zat iz not enough" for them. They found out through their studies that to reduce emissions and fuel consumption, the effectiveness depends on the duration the car stays at a standstill. If the car is stationary at a traffic light for 5 seconds or less, it is more efficient to leave the engine running rather than restarting it. It is only when you stop at the lights for more than 20 seconds will you reap the benefits of Stop-Start technology. Between 10-15 seconds, its better to shift to N or P to reduce emissions. So their goal now is to program cars to 'know' precisely when the lights will change and thus when to shut off the engine which will drastically improve the Start Stop system. One solution to this obstacle is the car-to-infrastructure communication system dubbed Car2X where X represents infrastructure.
Another innovation that BMW have thought of is the 'Green Wave'. Essentially this is a fantastic idea in my opinion as it turns a traffic light laden road into a mini-expressway. The 'Green Wave' is a sequence of traffic lights that turn green when a load of vehicles approach the junction which allows the driver to maintain a constant speed, reduce unnecessary braking and cut down traveling time even if they are not on an expressway. Using GPS and traffic management systems, traffic light timing could be adjusted 'live' which will benefit large groups of cars which are approaching the traffic lights. The BMW blokes have even thought of creating a new cruise control system which allows the car to maintain a certain speed to catch the next 'Green Wave'. Though some minorities will still have to stop for the lights, I think this is a remarkable idea.
I'm sure these ideas are still in the technology freezer, waiting for technology to further evolve and to become cheaper to implement. But once it does happen, motoring will never be the same again.
The next hurdle will be whether the LTA will want to implement such technology on our roads...