The upcoming BMW 7 Series, set to release next spring, will feature a groundbreaking advancement in automotive technology: Level 3 highly automated driving. This cutting-edge feature, named BMW Personal Pilot L3, enables drivers to temporarily remove their hands from the steering wheel and shift their attention away from the road under specific conditions.
The new BMW 7 Series (excluding the i7 eDrive50 and i7 M70 xDrive) models, available for order from December, will include this option, with installations beginning in March.
Table of Contents
Introducing BMW Personal Pilot L3: The Future of Autonomous Driving
The BMW Personal Pilot L3, designed according to the Society of Automotive Engineers SAE Level 3 standards, assumes complete control of the driving task. This includes managing the vehicle’s speed, maintaining the distance from the car ahead, and ensuring proper lane positioning. Priced at 6,000 euros (including VAT), this feature will initially be offered exclusively in Germany.
This technology stands out for its ability to engage even in low visibility conditions, such as darkness, up to speeds of 60 km/h (37 mph) on motorways with separate carriageways. Its sophisticated sensor system is a first in the industry, enabling a new realm of automation in driving.
Hands-Free Driving Experience: BMW’s Groundbreaking Level 3 Technology
BMW’s introduction of Level 3 functionality marks a pioneering step in the automotive world, making it the first manufacturer to offer both advanced Level 2 and Level 3 driving functions.
The existing BMW Highway Assistant, a Level 2 function, allows hands-free driving and is already available in all-new BMW 5 Series models. It includes unique features like the Active Lane Change Assistant with eye confirmation, optimal for long-distance journeys, and provides a relaxed driving posture at speeds up to 130 km/h (81 mph).
Responsibility is the key distinction between Level 2 and Level 3 automated driving. While Level 2 requires the driver’s constant attention and readiness to resume control, Level 3 allows the driver to engage in other activities, like editing emails or making phone calls, at speeds up to 60 km/h (37 mph).
The BMW 7 Series with the Personal Pilot L3 is designed for efficient use of time, especially during slow-moving traffic or in tailbacks, with options for streaming videos and other digital services.
Exclusive First Look: BMW 7 Series’ Personal Pilot L3 Feature
The BMW Personal Pilot L3’s availability is indicated on the display behind the steering wheel and is activated or deactivated with a button on the steering wheel. While the system is operational, the driver must remain prepared to take over driving duties. Visual and acoustic signals alert the driver when they need to resume control. If the driver fails to respond, the vehicle safely comes to a controlled stop.
This system is supported by a live HD map, precise GPS, and 360° sensors, ensuring accurate vehicle positioning and environmental monitoring. Regular updates keep the live HD map current.
In the new BMW 7 Series, this technology is backed by a new software stack, a powerful computing platform, and a 5G connection to the BMW Cloud. Additionally, the vehicles are equipped with the latest ultrasonic, radar sensors, and a highly sensitive 3D lidar sensor.
“A vehicle’s intelligence will become increasingly important in the future. Automation of the task of driving has an instrumental role to play here. What started out with more minor features, such as automatic control of the lighting functions, has today already progressed to assisted longitudinal and lateral vehicle control.
When driving from Munich to Tuscany for a holiday, for example, not only does the system take care of switching the headlights on and off when passing through the numerous tunnels en route, it also keeps the vehicle within the speed limits and at a safe distance from vehicles ahead.
If we go further and add all the possibilities offered by connectivity and the driver’s semantic knowledge, the car will turn more and more into an intelligent companion or even friend that helps and excites the driver. We are expanding on this aspect step by step,” explained Dr. Nicolai Martin, Senior Vice President Automated Driving Development BMW Group, in a 2021 interview on automated driving.
The BMW Personal Pilot L3’s ability to function reliably in the dark, along with its other features, sets it apart from competitors. By enhancing both comfort and safety, SAE Level 3 automated driving represents a significant advancement in public road transportation.