Imagine a future where you don't have to drive yourself to work, the market or even home from a night on the town. Convenient, but to some a nightmare of lost control. Even worse: imagine a future where your car chooses your destination for you.

That's what BMW is working toward with its new learning navigation system - after a fashion. The goal is to develop a system that learns a driver's habits, and then correlates its current location with the next likely stop and anticipates that move by displaying directions to the place the driver will want to go next.

BMW's Andreas Winckler told Germany's Der Spiegel that the system, called ILENA (Intelligent Learning Navigation) is already capable of 80% correct guesses in determining the car's next destination.

Efficiency is also part of the game. By knowing the route and the various situations encountered along it on a daily basis, the computer can do things in advance like minimize the airconditioning's output during a freeway on-ramp merger. That's something that can't effectively be done on-demand, and yet when the concept is taken to every system in the car, can save up between 5-10% in fuel efficiency.

The dilemma becomes obvious, and is a classic one to the field of ethics: is the loss in privacy (a computer tracking your habits) worth the gain in efficiency?

While the question is obvious, the answer is more elusive, and depends heavily on the individual. Given the late stage of development and high degree of success already seen from the ILENA program, expect BMW to continue progressing the technology until it makes its debut in the 7-series sedan sometime in the next five or so years.
Via: The Truth About Cars