The new BMW i7 and 7 Series models bring to market new and advanced self-driving features. And some of these Level 2+ autonomous driving functions are only available in the United States and Canada. During our 2023 BMW 7 Series test drive, including the i7 electric, we had the chance to test the capabilities of the driver assistance features. In fact, the new 7 Series and i7 feature the sensor setup for a Level 3 implementation, but that will come at a later date in Germany.
Highway Assistant / Driver Assistant Pro
In the US, the Level 2+ functionality brings forward the Highway Assistant. The Level 2+ works at speeds up to 85 mph (137 km/h). In this latest version, the driver can enjoy the hands-free driving experience for prolonged times since a push on the drive or brake pedal won’t immediately disable the Level 2+ features. But it rather revers to Level 2 functions. I had a chance to test the feature on Interstate 10 around Palm Springs and it works extremely well.
If certain conditions are met – lane detection, highway driving, eye camera detection – the BMW i7 allows you to switch to the Driver Assistant Pro feature (Level 2+). The lane changing, speed, distance control and braking is taken over by the BMW i7 / 7 Series. But of course, the system ensures that the driver is alert and focused on the road. If the camera behind the steering wheel fails to detect the eyes, then the car will prompt you to take over.
Up to 85 mph
During my test drive, with light traffic, I was able to cruise for at least 8-10 minuets before the BMW i7 asked me to take over. There are also some other scenarios when the car might ask you to be in control, such as the lack of lane markings. Even though the feature is capped to 85 mph, it can go 1-2 mph above that in case you quickly accelerate – that’s by design so the the reduction to a Level 2 system is smooth.
Even though it won’t be available in the United States (at least for the foreseeable future), the Level 3 functions will be quite exciting. In this case, the driver’s attention is allegedly no longer required and the camera behind the wheel doesn’t have to constantly track the eyes movement. How will that work in real life scenarios? It remains to be seen, but it’s quite an intriguing proposition.
Let’s take a look at the Level 2+ Highway Assistant feature in the BMW i7 and 760i. The videos below will take you to the right timeline to see the hands-free driving: