The system will activate an autonomous driving mode which is able to navigate the vehicle to the emergency stopping lane of a highway, activate the hazard warning lights and call for help.
The prototype Emergency Stop Assistant is being initially developed for highways and similar divided roads as a means of diffusing potentially lethal situations such as suffering a heart attack while behind the wheel.
As Ralf Decke, project manager for SmartSenior at BMW Group Research and Technology, explains: “Our primary aim is to avoid accidents caused by a health-related loss of control – or at least to reduce the severity of such accidents.”
Just how the system will determine whether the driver has suffered a serious medical problem is unclear, although according to BMW it is based on sensors designed to monitor vital data as well as existing BMW assistance systems.
With self-parking systems having already arrived on the market, this represents the next step in driverless transport which could one day see everyone become a passenger in their own car.
BMW has already showcased this technology in part almost two years ago on Top Gear with a modified 330i which was able to complete a hot lap of the test circuit without any human intervention.