Autonomous Driving

BMW receives exemption for Highway Assistant

Hands off the wheel: BMW receives exemption for Highway Assistant - 5 Series BMW may drive semi-autonomously at speeds up to 130 km/h

Hands off the wheel: BMW receives exemption for Highway Assistant - 5 Series BMW may drive semi-autonomously at speeds up to 130 km/h

BMW has made a remarkable achievement in the field of autonomous driving. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority has granted the German automaker an exemption for an innovative highway assistant in Germany. This semi-autonomous system allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel at speeds up to 80 mph while the system takes over. BMW's Autobahn Assistant will initially be integrated into the 5 Series model, where it will take over the steering wheel in addition to controlling distance and speed, up to the posted speed if desired. In the USA and Canada, it is already in use in the large BMW 7 Series. 

Safety and monitoring

The system offers a high degree of user-friendliness and safety. A special display in the cockpit informs the driver when the Highway Assistant is activated. Once activated, the driver can take his hands off the wheel for longer periods of time, as long as he keeps a close eye on the traffic situation and is ready to take control at any time. An intelligent camera constantly monitors the driver's attention.

Active Lane Change Assist: A new level of autonomy

In addition, Active Lane Change Assist offers the option of changing lanes automatically between speeds of 60 km/h and 180 km/h, without the driver having to intervene with the steering wheel. If the traffic situation permits, the system performs the necessary steering maneuvers and speed adjustments on its own. Another feature is the ability to initiate a lane change by simply confirming the driver's gaze in the exterior mirror, without the need for a turn signal.

The technology behind the system

This significant advance in semi-autonomous technology was made possible by a novel software stack, a powerful computing platform and a connection to the BMW Cloud via 5G. In addition, the system uses 360° sensing technology that includes cameras, ultrasonic and radar sensors. A live HD map with precise route trajectories is also continuously synchronized with GPS. This makes BMW the first automaker in Germany to offer a system for semi-automated highway driving at speeds between 60 and 130 km/h.

BMW will also be present at the IAA MOBILITY in Munich. There, the automaker plans to present steps and details of the "New Class".

Other players in the field of semi-autonomous driving

BMW is by no means the only company active in the field of semi-autonomous driving. In fact, there are a number of automakers and technology companies that are making significant progress in this area.

A well-known example U.S. automaker General Motors who has also invested heavily in the development of autonomous driving technologies through its Cruise subsidiary. With its "Super Cruise" system, GM offers a feature that allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on certain stretches of highway when the car is driving itself.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet (the parent company of Google), has also made its mark in this space. While Waymo has not directly developed a semi-autonomous system for private vehicles, it does operate an autonomous taxi service in some parts of the United States.

In Europe, companies like Mercedes-Benz and Volvo are also working hard on semi-autonomous technologies. Both companies already offer driver assistance systems that allow the driver to relinquish control of the vehicle under certain conditions.

Further articles