BMW M Division Targets Centralized AI Systems for Future Performance Cars
July 16, 2023
In a recent interview with Frank Van Meel, CEO of BMW's M division, it was revealed that the company is revolutionizing its approach to vehicle control systems. Borrowing concepts from nature, BMW is working towards a centralization of vehicle control units to increase efficiency and enhance the performance of their cars. This marks a significant departure from traditional designs where each control unit - for the engine, gearbox, stability, etc. - operates independently.
"As we see in nature, no animal survives trying to function with multiple brains. It's the same in electronic architecture; if you have too many 'brains' at the same time, you lose a lot of time due to the need for communication," Van Meel explains. This theory has led BMW to centralize the control units, making way for a 'Hand of God' central brain that would make decisions for the whole system, reducing delays and increasing the overall efficiency of the vehicle.
This 'Hand of God' approach, as Van Meel describes it, consolidates a variety of decentralized brains into a single, centralized brain. This not only saves time by reducing communication but also allows for a new kind of vehicle dynamics and control.
Van Meel also shed light on the company's shift towards electrification, which includes a concept M car with four electric motors. "The motors are more or less just the actuators," he says. "The first step towards artificial intelligence in vehicles is a centralized system, which is quite a significant one because no one has done this before."
BMW has already begun implementing elements of this design, using proprietary software to centralize the logic behind vehicle dynamics. This move towards integrating power wheel control within the engine ECU is already showing results. The M xDrive AWD system, for instance, uses a centralized logic that controls the wheel actuators, improving both speed and precision.
The introduction of near-instantaneous response times from electric motors, combined with centralized control logic, promises even greater control and precision, especially vital in high-powered cars. As Van Meel pointed out, "if you go to four machines, then the power is even more than today."
With a more streamlined communication process, the implementation of a central brain allows for faster and more efficient control of vehicle systems. The vision outlined by Van Meel marks an exciting new phase in car design, one that is set to redefine the boundaries of automotive performance. AI will no longer just be a fancy addition to luxury cars but a necessary component in the evolution of vehicle dynamics and control.
The car of the future, as envisioned by BMW's M division, is not just electric - it's smarter, faster, and more efficient, driven by one "Hand of God." This development may indeed pave the way for other manufacturers to follow suit, bringing us one step closer to a new era in automotive design.
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Jacob Brooke, a respected voice in the world of automotive journalism, brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to his reviews at CarSauce. His keen eye for detail and passion for all things cars shine through in his in-depth analysis and honest evaluations of the latest models of cars. Join him as he guides readers through the car-buying process and explores the exciting world of motoring.