Published on September 24th, 20120
A Driverless Car? Who’s Behind the Wheel? Nobody.
Remember Knight Rider, the 1980s show starring David Hasselhoff, who fought crime using an artificially intelligent car? Well, look out…BMW is bringing this concept car to a reality. Dan Neil, the automotive reporter for the Wall Street Journal, reveals how BMW is breaking all the rules.
The Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca is a 2.2-mile asphalt roller coaster plunging and soaring across California’s tawny Monterey highlands. The most famous section, the Corkscrew, requires drivers storming up a long hill to slam the brakes and take a hard left into what seems to be thin air. The car goes momentarily weightless, and when the track materializes beneath you—always a pleasant surprise—it’s going downhill like a ski jump—and, oh yeah, heading hard right.
This is one of several blind corners at Laguna Seca requiring drivers to commit to a turn long before they can actually see where they’re going. If you wait to see the corner before you turn in for it, you’ll wind up in Monterey.
As the automotive critic for The Wall Street Journal, I’ve been to Laguna Seca many times testing high-performance cars, and on this particular day in June 2011, I was driving brilliantly. I’d tamed the shrewish Corkscrew, unbent the Andretti hairpin. Like a Stradivarius pawed by Heifetz, so too the BMW in my hands.
Except that I wasn’t really driving.
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