Next spring, BMW will launch near-autonomous driving
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Next spring, BMW will launch near-autonomous driving

Starting next spring, owners of certain BMW cars will have the option to let their vehicles drive themselves. BMW revealed on Friday that it will introduce Level 3 automated driving for its BMW 7 Series cars in March 2024, and pre-orders will be available from December.

In the world of automated driving, we use levels to measure how much a car can drive itself. There are levels from 0 to 5, and Level 3 is in the middle. At Level 3, the car can handle driving in specific situations on its own, but the driver needs to stay attentive. If the car needs the driver to take control, they should be ready to do so.

To break it down, BMW is introducing a feature called Personal Pilot L3, which is a Level 3 automation system. This means the car can drive itself in certain conditions, but the driver must be ready to take over if needed. This feature will be available for BMW 7 Series cars in Germany for a cost of 6,000 euros, starting with pre-orders in December.

It’s important to note that Level 3 automation allows the driver to engage in non-driving activities while the system is active, such as editing emails or making phone calls. However, this feature is limited to speeds up to 60 km/h (37 mph) and can only be used on certain types of roads. BMW highlights that this is the first system of its kind that can operate in the dark.

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While Mercedes-Benz already offers Level 3 automation in specific scenarios, BMW claims to be the first carmaker to provide both Level 2 automation (available in all-new BMW 5 Series models) and a Level 3 system simultaneously.

BMW autonomous driving

It’s crucial to understand that Level 3 automation does not permit the driver to fully fall asleep at the wheel, as they may be required to take control. BMW positions this system as ideal for utilizing time in slow-moving traffic or during daily motorway commutes.

BMW’s Level 3 automation relies on advanced technologies, including 5G connectivity, precise GPS positioning, cameras, ultrasonic sensors, radars, and a 3D lidar sensor. These high-tech components work together to enable the car to drive autonomously under certain conditions.

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This move puts BMW and Mercedes-Benz at the forefront of commercializing Level 3 automation, setting them apart from other major automakers. While many companies offer some level of automated driving features, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are among the pioneers in implementing Level 3 automation for practical use.

In comparison, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving assistance package is currently considered around Level 2 automation. Despite Elon Musk’s announcements about the imminent arrival of Level 4 or 5 automation, it has yet to materialize. This emphasizes the significance of BMW’s and Mercedes-Benz’s achievements in bringing Level 3 automation to the market.

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