BMW announced today that it will use the HERE HD Live Map, HERE’s high-definition map, to enable hands-free driving in the United States and Canada. HERE provides high-definition maps for Level 2+ automated driving capabilities. BMW introduced its Level 2+ capabilities in the new BMW 7 Series and we had a chance to test them last month. The feature is called Highway Assistant and can operate your 7 Series hands-free up to a maximum speed of 85 mph.

The onboard HERE HD Live Map provides functionality for the vehicle’s navigation system to display in real-time where the SAE Level 2+ function can be activated safely. Over time, the HERE HD Live Map will be integrated in additional BMW models as automated driving capabilities increase across vehicles, roadways, and regions.

“A digital HD map is essential for highly automated driving. HERE HD Live Map is rich and reliable: it provides road geometry, route profile, and traffic signs – all on a global scale,” said Dr. Nicolai Martin, Senior Vice President Driving Experience at BMW Group. “We have been working with HERE for many years to bring highly automated driving to market, and we are no thrilled to see the result of our collaboration finally come to life. Together, we are going one step further in delivering on our promise to provide a superior driving experience to our customers.”

With the Level 2+ functionality,  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. 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.

In a press release, BMW says that HERE HD Live Map “consists of rich, highly accurate and fresh layers of data to support the vehicle in knowing exactly where it is on the road and what road features lie ahead.” Along with the BMW 7 Series, the flagship EV crossover iX also features the HERE Predictive Routing, a cloud-based routing functionality that learns individual driving patterns to propose more personalized journeys. In addition, the all-new BMW 7 Series uses HERE Real Time Traffic across 70 countries.