BMW confirms Level 2+ driverless technology will be enabled in the UK.
BMW is expanding the availability of its driverless technology with the introduction of “hands-free driving” in the UK next year.
With BMW’s system, drivers are able to remove their hands from the steering wheel in all models of the new 5-series range including the electric i5, as well as in the BMW i7 large electric sedan and the iX electric SUV, Matt Bacon, head of product for BMW’s large models in the UK, told Automotive Daily Network partner Autocar.
BMW is taking advantage of new rules in the UK that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel providing they are still paying attention to the road, sometimes called Level 2+ in the autonomy categorisation scale.
BMW will follow Ford, which is rolling out its BlueCruise hand-free system on the Ford Mustang Mach E electric SUV in Europe.
The BMW system enabling this change is called Highway Assistant in the US, which the company is pushing to be renamed Motorway Assistant in the UK, Bacon said.
The feature is part of Driving Assistant Professional, which is available in the new 5-series on top of Tech Pack Plus, which includes adaptive cruise control and lane centreing.
BMW has yet to finalise whether the system will be available as a monthly subscription, as it is in the Ford Mustang Mach E, or a one-off fee at purchase. The extra cost is partly to pay for the licence fee for the higher definition mapping needed to better locate the car, BMW said.
The exact roads the system will work on have yet to be determined, Bacon said, although the minimum requirement is that that are dual carriageways with a central divider. The car will alert you if you drive onto a qualifying road. Ford has said roads covered by BlueCruise will include the M25 and M40.
The BMW will recognise whether you are paying attention to the road ahead via cameras positioned in front of the driver in the information screen. The L2+ system will harness the car’s Active Lane Change Assistant to allow the driver to change lanes without needing to place their hands on the wheel. The car suggests a lane change which the driver confirms by looking into the side mirror. The same driver monitoring cameras will track the drivers’ line of sight, okaying the move.
BMW has said it will expand this autonomy to include “address-to-address” level two-plus capability on its Neue Klasse EVs, due from 2025.
Meanwhile Porsche is expected to offer L2+ hands-off, eyes-on driving on its new electric Macan arriving next year as part of the Supervision package supplier by Intel-owned Mobileye, which includes 11 cameras.