Tesla Motors Inc has been repeatedly compared with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), not only because they compete in the luxury car market but also because BMW is the closest competitor in EVs. Although there were rumors (fueled by Tesla CEO Elon Musk himself) that Tesla and BMW were planning a partnership, BMW denied those rumors.
On the contrary, it now seems as if the two automakers are trying to one-up each other.
BMW plans smartwatch-controlled car
Mashable reports that BMW is planning to build a car that can be parked using a smartwatch. Or to put it more precisely, the German automaker is developing a valet parking system that can park cars using a smartwatch.
The BMW i3 will work with the smartwatch and basically park itself. The automaker plans to show off the i3 at the Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas. According to the press release, drivers can use an app to activate the Remote Valet Parking Assistant feature on the i3. The app will then guide the car right into a parking spot.
To achieve this, the i3 uses laser sensors to scan the area around itself to make sure it doesn’t run into anything. The laser sensors are integrated with a digital map, further enabling the car to recognize its surroundings.
So how well does the system work? Apparently it isn’t totally crash-proof. BMW said in its press release that there’s a “possibility of entirely collision-free driving.”
Can / will Tesla make one too?
Tesla Motors already has some self-driving features on the Model S. Of course no car on the road is capable of completely driving itself down the road. Not only is the technology not ready, but regulations don’t allow it. Tesla’s new Model S P85D, however, does enable the car to park itself and offers features to help drivers prevent accidents using cameras, radar and sonar.
Since the Model S can already park itself, Tesla may not be too far from being able to match BMW’s smartwatch-controlled self-parking car. Indeed, as BMW plans its own charging network similar to what Tesla already has, it would seem as if it’s now Tesla’s turn to add a feature BMW already has to the Model S.
Drivers can already control some functions of the car with an app on their smartphones, so integrating the car with a smartwatch app doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. The Model S already has plenty of sensors which could be used to create a similar system.
Shares of Tesla Motors rallied today, climbing more than 4% after steady decline since mid-November. Investors have been speculating that falling gas prices might have a negative impact on the EV maker’s sales.