BMW has collected data from its customers on every trip – but not without permission, of course.
In a report by Australia Car sell, BMW 7 Series project manager Christoph Fagschlunger admits that the company has been doing it for the past three years. The customer vehicle data that has been collected is used for vehicle development, including next-generation driver assistance and autonomous driving features.
With the driver’s permission, BMW cars send data packets to Munich in one of three situations: when the vehicle is turned off, when the engine is turned off in an idle-stop state, or while charging (for EV and PHEV).
The car stores the data, which is then sent to BMW via a secure but simple cellular connection. The data transmission is paid for by the Bavarian marque and is filtered according to the required information.
According to Fagschlunger, about four in five BMW owners agree to send data back to the company for the stated purpose. The automaker has obtained 1.2 billion kilometers (745 million miles) of real-world (and anonymous) driving data from its customers. It expects to go more than 2 billion km (1.2 billion mi) by the end of the year.
“We only do this with permission from every customer – they have to give it – and nearly 80 percent of customers do,” Fagschlunger said. “It shows us things like where the cruise is actively used, lane control, how to use it, are there any system downsizing, and are customers happy to use it?”
Some of the things BMW found using this data is that 60 percent of customers with Professional version navigation use active cruise control. However, only 36 percent of these customers use the steering assist and lane-keeping functions.
“We’re analyzing the reason. It’s really different in geographic areas and we have to examine the data to determine if it’s due to heavy traffic, or road conditions, and then it’s used for data-driven improvements,” Fagschlunger explains.