If this curious and slightly spooky video is any indication, the future will be a place where silent cars cruise around town acting just like humans. By that, we mean they'll be looking for something to eat and after that, they'll hit the showers before going on their evening date. Here's hoping they don't adopt less admirable human traits like listening to glass-shaking bass at stoplights, or worse, driving slow in the fast lane.
Honestly, we wouldn't worry too much about that future. Creating autonomous cars is one thing, but getting them to actually work in our random world is completely different. The new BMW iX electric SUV is arguably at the forefront of technology in a vehicle, and this video is designed to showcase some of that. It depicts what might be a normal shopping trip to the mall, except the driver doesn't park the Bimmer. For that matter, the Bimmer doesn't park itself, either.
Gallery: BMW iX
Instead, it drives to an automated charger where a plug-equipped robotic arm charges up the iX. We don't know how long it stays, but from there it heads to a car wash that's apparently just sitting in the middle of a parking garage. The brushes spin up but actually, we never see it go through the wash. At that point, the shoppers return to the garage and summon the car back to the pick-up location, despite it being right behind them. The iX slowly backs into position, now cleaner and charged up to 64 percent capacity, all while the humans were acquiring goods. What a convenient world we'll have in the future.
Don't get your hopes up just yet, however. According to the video description, this video was done in a special location with all kinds of extra sensors and equipment set up to help the BMW along. It's very much a proof-of-concept exercise, and as such, it omits the single biggest obstacle to autonomous systems: randomness. What about other cars driving around the garage, autonomous or otherwise? What about the nefarious teenagers trying to intentionally confuse the car? Those are just some scenarios to suss out before such tech goes mainstream, and folks, we're still a long way off from that.
And then there's the issue of the machines becoming self-aware and destroying humanity. But that's an argument for a different day.