BMW seemed to be slowing its horses in the autonomous driving race, along with most other automakers without a big ‘T’ on their hoods. However, that doesn’t mean BMW’s stopped developing semi-autonomous tech altogether. In fact, rather than stopping, BMW is advancing semi-autonomous driver aids, as the new 5 Series is the first-ever vehicle to get approved in Germany for partial self-driving up to 130 km/h.
At the moment, all appropriately equipped BMW’s have an advanced Level 2 autonomous system, which will drive itself on the highway indefinitely, so long as its parameters are continuously met. Those parameters consist of a speed window, the owner’s attention be constantly proved by touching the steering wheel, and that the road markings are clear enough for the car’s cameras to see. However, BMW’s newest semi-autonomous tech for the 5 Series allows for 130 km/h self driving, it no longer requires a steering wheel touch to prove your attention, and it has an upgraded lane change assistant. And it’s the first such system to be approved by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority.
According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, BMW’s new system is safe and works well enough to gain approval, all while being more lenient. For example, with this new system, drivers will no longer have to touch the steering wheel regularly to keep the system engaged. Instead, there’s an interior camera that watches the driver’s face and eyes to make sure they’re paying attention. It’s a little bit creepy, knowing the car is constantly monitoring your face. But BMW is far from the only brand that does that. The only difference is that BMW is allowed higher speeds in Germany than everyone else.
It also has BMW’s new lane change assist function. That works by using sensors and cameras to determine whether you might want to change lanes. So if someone is driving too slow in front of you, it knows you’re a typical BMW driver and that you want to go around the slowpoke. So it will signal to you when it’s clear and safe to change and then you just look in the corresponding side mirror and the car will change lanes on its own. Admittedly, the new iX, 7 Series, and i7 have a function where you just ues your indicator stalk while the system is engage and, when it’s clear it will make the change.
These sorts of changes are pretty minor, although the tech big is interesting.