Computer and communication technologies are proving important in helping motorists drive more intelligently and efficiently. These high-tech strategies are increasingly being used to complement the fuel economy and emissions reductions brought by improved powerplants and vehicle electrification. On the way to the federally mandated fleet fuel economy average of 54.5 mpg, all strategies and efficiency technologies become important.

Like many other automakers,  the BMW Group is investing large amounts in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technologies to make traveling  more efficient, safer, and more convenient. Recently, the BMW Group presented some of its latest innovations that are part of its BMW ConnectedDrive.

BMW’s Mobility Assistant, currently being tested in Berlin, can help travelers chose the best way of traveling to a destination, especially in a congested city. This iPhone app can provide information on a variety of transportation options. When a destination is entered, the Mobility Assistant displays various routes to reach the destination cost-effectively and quickly – whether by car, public transportation, or a combination of modes.

Finding a place to park can waste fuel and time. BMW’s ParkatmyHouse and ParkNow provide an answer by making it easier to locate parking spaces. ParkatmyHouse is for entrepreneurs and homeowners who want to rent parking spaces, with ParkatmyHouse parking spaces at more than 20,000 locations in the United Kingdom and over 150,000 registered drivers using them. With ParkNow, drivers can book parking spaces in advance through the ParkNow website or by using the ParkNow App for smart phones. There are currently 14 ParkNow locations in the San Francisco area.

The ability to travel in city traffic without constantly stopping and starting at traffic lights means calmer and safer driving while saving fuel and reducing emissions. BMW’s Traffic Light Assistant communicates with traffic lights to obtain and evaluate their timing, and then informs a driver about the optimum speed to match traffic light timing. For instance, if the light at the next intersection is projected to be red if the driver doesn’t change speed, the driver would be informed early enough to brake smoothly.

Getting stuck in a traffic jam can waste lots of fuel, not to mention being a source of frustration and  even lead to road rage incidents. ConnectedDrive-equipped BMWs with RTTI (Real Time Traffic Information) provides drivers with the latest information about traffic conditions, enabling drivers to select routes with less congestion, thus saving time, emissions, and fuel.      

Updated every three minutes, RTTI indicates five levels of traffic flow including flowing normally,  slow-moving traffic, heavy traffic, congested, or gridlocked.

BMW is also developing BMW ConnectedRide, a version of BMW ConnectedDrive for BMW motorcycles. Currently, the emphasis is on safety with features like Left Turn Assistant, Traffic Light Assistant, Collision Warning, and Traffic Sign Recognition. The motorcyclist would be alerted about adverse weather conditions like fog, rain, snow, and ice, which are all much greater hazards for motorcycle riders. The cyclist could also be warned about other hazards like an oil slick, loose gravel, potholes, or an obstacle in the road. Warnings could be presented via a heads-up display in the windscreen.