The future of autonomous driving becomes not only clear, but also certain, when one engages a function called Driving Assist on the new BMW 330i. Launched along with the new 7th generation of the 3-series in Cape Town recently, the car brings an unprecedented level of autonomy to a mass-market vehicle.
Along with a range of sensors, cameras and alarms, Driving Assist allows the driver to remove hands from the steering wheel temporarily. Very temporarily.
Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashes to alert the driver to put hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights mean the car wants the driver to put hands on the wheel. The red lights mean that the driver has to take over control from the vehicle.
We tested the system on a major highway as well as on the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.
In 95% of cases, the vehicle lived up to the promise of autonomous driving. However, in cases where lane markings are not clear, and when the driver does not respond to warning signals, Driving Assist either doesn’t work or it disengages.
Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.
However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.
The Driving Assist package includes:
- A camera-based Lane Departure Warning, which detects lane markings and alerts the driver to an unintentional lane change. The warning is not activated when the indicator has been activated.
- Approach control warning with light city braking, detects vehicles ahead, while a Person warning and reacts to pedestrians. If a vehicle ahead brakes suddenly, it responds immediately by activating the Approach control warning.
- The warning symbol is first displayed, then the symbol begins flashing and an acoustic warning is emitted, and finally, the brakes are lightly applied, when travelling at speeds under 60 km/h.
- If the system warns of a potential collision, the brakes are simultaneously preconditioned for a faster response. In the event of an emergency, the system applies the brakes.
- Active cruise control with Stop&Go includes radar-based Approach control warning with full deceleration and braking, especially in traffic jams.
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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search
From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.
Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.
In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.
Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.
Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.
As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.
South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.
Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40
5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019
According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.
Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”
Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”
Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”
Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion
Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024