Mini admits that autonomous driving technology in its traditional sense does not make a whole lot of sense for the young and sporty brand, however, it foresees a future where the artificial intelligence in its cars can be used to showcase the full sporty potential of its vehicles.
Speaking to Australian media at last week's 2017 Frankfurt motor show, the senior vice president of Mini, Sebastian Mackensen, said that for now, Mini buyers are not asking for autonomous driving technologies.
“It’s a thing which I think Mini shouldn’t be the first brand to implement,” Mackensen said.
“Because Mini is always about driving fun, Mini you want to have the steering wheel in your hands and having control of the car and noticing what it does to your body when you do certain things to the car or move in a certain way or hit the throttle in a certain way. From that emotional point of view, it’s not such a great thing for the Mini brand.”
Even so, the brand is envisioning new ideas and uses for the developing technology that may gel better with the DNA of the Mini brand’s ‘go-kart’ style dynamics.
“You could also think how good are drivers driving? Not as good as a professional driver, so if your autonomous car would take you down a windy road always at the limit of the car but without going off the track in a way you would never be able to, maybe you can experience your Mini in a very new way? But this is fantasising far out, I don’t think Mini will be amongst the [first with autonomous cars], we will be a follower.”
The idea that a Mini’s computer could not only assist on a race track but also demonstrate the car’s ability opens up a whole new and far more interesting approach to autonomous driving technologies.
“If you would go on a race track, the most exciting things for are me is rides with a real race driver, because you get to experience the things you don’t dare put yourself in, theoretically an autonomous driving sports car can do that for you because you will always drive the perfect line because the car knows the perfect line, by the millimetre, it’s a very different way of emotional driving.”
For now, though, Mini is focused on improving its electric propulsion technologies in association with parent brand BMW. The small car manufacturer sees itself fit very naturally into the urban needs of electric mobility and has set itself up to exploit those benefits in the coming years.