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New technology graduates from the lab to the road

German automaker BMW confirmed October 28 that it plans to extend its in-car infotainment and safety systems with some advanced functionality to make driving greener and easier.

Among the additions will be features such as the "proactive driving assistant," unveiled as part of a package of systems to improve environmental efficiency, which can tell the driver when to brake or accelerate based on its knowledge of the road ahead.

This enables something the firm calls "active coasting," where the connection between the engine and the gearbox is automatically cut - something which BMW says can produce fuel savings of up to ten percent.

These technologies were revealed this month as part of a broader range of research BMW is working on, which the automaker believes will result in new technology that changes the way we interact with vehicles.

Among them are smart car keys which store information such the GPS position of the car and can act as paperless tickets for trains, seamless playback of content to allow drivers to continue listening to a track when they move from the vehicle to the house, and "microNavigation," which extends GPS navigation to complex enclosed areas such as a multistorey car park.

The firm is also working on "remote controlled parking," enabling a car to park itself in a tight garage automatically with the driver standing outside of the vehicle, although BMW says that it must clarify the legal situation regarding starting the engine when the driver isn't behind the wheel.

In a nod to in-car apps unveiled this year by other firms such as Ford and General Motors, the firm is also working on "Micropause apps," designed for use during short stationary periods in journeys.

When traffic lights are red, BMW says that these apps could launch automatically on the instrument cluster or a head-up display to display news headlines, film trailers or weather bulletins, which would then fade out before the lights change to green.

BMW's work in the area is symptomatic of a broader shift towards adding advanced technology to vehicles, with Edmunds.com recently naming connected cars, advanced driver assistance systems and in-car apps among five technologies that will change the way we drive.