BMW 7 series tech

White BMW 7 Series saloon

Very quietly, and with not much in the way of fanfare, another step down the road to autonomous cars has been taken. It comes courtesy of the all-new BMW 7-Series, which goes on sale this month priced from £64,530.

Its party trick is this – it’s the first production vehicle in the world that can be manoeuvred without the driver having to be sitting inside. In effect, it’s a giant remote-controlled car. The process is activated using the key, which features a tiny digital screen. With the driver standing nearby, the car can be shunted backwards and forwards in a straight line, for example, in or out of a tight parking spot or garage.

Speaking of innovations, the new 7 can also be specified with a technology called Gesture Control. It’s making its production car debut, too. By making specific hand movements over the centre console – where a 3D sensor registers them – commonly used infotainment system actions can be controlled. Mid-air swipes mean owners can adjust the volume, control the display, and accept or reject incoming phone calls.

Are these useful features or gimmicks? Time will tell, but they do reveal just how far car makers have come with integrated technology. The scary thing is it’s just the beginning.