BMW to introduce hands-free driving in Germany

Autonomous cars, Car stuff, News

  • Highly automated driving as a new option for customers in Germany
  • For the first time, the vehicle takes over the task of driving in full – including in the dark
  • New hands-free function means drivers can switch to other in-vehicle activities while travelling at up to 60 km/h (37 mph) 

Level 3 highly automated driving, which allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and temporarily divert their attention away from the road, will soon be available in the new BMW 7 Series.

BMW Personal Pilot L3 is the name of the new function that relieves the person at the wheel of the task of driving in certain situations and controls the car’s speed, distance to the vehicle ahead and lane positioning for them. This new option can be ordered for the new BMW 7 Series (excluding the i7 eDrive50 and i7 M70 xDrive) from December to be fitted in vehicles from next March.

Designed to assume the entire task of driving with Level 3 capability as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the highly automated driving function will be offered exclusively in Germany priced at 6,000 Euros (incl. VAT).

This innovative technology allows drivers to redirect their focus to other in-vehicle activities when travelling at up to 60 km/h (37 mph) on motorways with structurally separated carriageways. It is the first system of its kind that can also be used in the dark.

The introduction of Level 3 functionality in BMW 7 Series models will make the BMW Group the first carmaker to offer both an advanced Level 2 driving function in its product portfolio where the hands can be taken off the steering wheel and positioned comfortably and a Level 3 system

The crucial difference between Level 2 and Level 3 is that with Level 2 (partially automated driving) responsibility continues to lie with the driver at all times. Whenever the BMW Highway Assistant is in use, drivers must watch what is happening on the road and be able to take over the task of driving again at all times. This is continuously monitored using an intelligent attentiveness camera.

The BMW Personal Pilot L3 for Level 3 highly automated driving in the BMW 7 Series gives drivers the option of concentrating on secondary in-vehicle activities away from what is happening on the road. In a BMW 7 Series with the BMW Personal Pilot L3 activated, customers will be able to edit e-mails, for example, or engage more deeply in telephone calls while travelling at up to 60 km/h (37 mph).

They can also use digital services for e.g. streaming videos from various providers on the central display during a journey. This makes the new BMW Personal Pilot L3 the ideal solution for making good use of time spent in slow-moving traffic or tailbacks during daily motorway commutes.

Symbols appear on the display behind the steering wheel as appropriate to indicate whether the BMW Personal Pilot L3 is available. It is activated and deactivated by a button on the steering wheel. When the function is being used, the customer still has to be ready to reassume the task of driving at any time – i.e. as soon as the situation on the road requires them to or the stretch of road suitable for using the BMW Personal Pilot L3 comes to an end.

Visual and acoustic signals let the driver know they have to take over control once more. If the driver does not respond as required, the vehicle is brought to a controlled standstill.

Chris Price
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