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Wed 22 Nov 2000 04:00 AM

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BMW tell customers not to get lost

The German car manufacturing giants have launched the first car navigation system for the Middle East which will initially be available in the UAE.

The new message conveyed by BMW in a recent press launch was: “drive a BMW, or get lost!” Now this may sound like an embarrassing PR gaffe, but in fact it really is a genuine literal message.

The reason being that BMW has launched the first operational in-car road navigation system in the Middle East. The new system, called ‘Mallah’, which is Arabic for navigator, is only available in the UAE but comes as standard on the entire 7-series line-up as well as the X5, 540i and 530i.

“We went for the UAE because it is an advanced and forward-thinking country, with the easiest access to the most cooperative government departments,” said Robert Bailey-McEwan, managing director, BMW Group Middle East. “It also happens to have the fastest-developing road network in the Middle East.”

The system is exclusive to BMW vehicles and is reliant on both global satellite positioning and an in-car digital CD of the UAE. It operates on GPS (Global Positioning System) by receiving signals from up to six of the 24 NavStar GPS satellites. The in-car computer then calculates the car’s precise location by comparing the satellite positioning co-ordinates to the digital maps stored on a CD-Rom in the car’s special CD-Rom player. By using sensors in the car’s wheels, the accuracy of the system can be enhanced down to within one metre.

After you input a desired destination, the navigation system will then calculated three different options for how to arrive. You can chose either the fastest route (time-wise), the shortest route (distance-wise) or through the most use of main-roads or highways. Guidance is also given both audibly (with a ‘pleasant female voice,’ apparently) and visually either with Destination Guidance (arrows or icons) or as a detailed digital colour map on the screen.

The system won’t just direct you to your destination, though, it will also point out various landmarks along the way, such as hotels, restaurants, hospitals, petrol stations, monuments, mosques, tourist attractions and even coffee shops, for some peculiar reason. It also has Continuous Route Monitoring so, in the event you take a wrong turn, the computer automatically re-calculates a new route. Another similar feature is Alternate Route Planning, which allows the driver to request a new route if not happy with the original one given.

Due to the fast-developing road network in the UAE, BMW advises customers that they will need to replace their digital CD for an updated version every six months, or else they could end up getting very lost with directions down old roads that no longer exist. Dubai residents, however, may consider replacing their CD every four to six weeks.

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