BMW granted approval for semi-autonomous driving system in Germany

BMW has become the first German automaker to be approved for a semi-automated driving system. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has granted the automaker the necessary approvals to include the feature in the upcoming BMW 5 Series Sedan.

Called the BMW Autobahn Assistant, the feature regulates speed, distance, and steering tasks. When activated it allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and assume a comfortable position while driving at speeds of up to 130km/h (80mph), but only on designated routes. BMW did not specify where these routes are located, adding that an “intelligent attention camera” will be monitoring the driver’s attention to ensure they are ready to take control of the car at any time.

In addition to the Autobahn Assistant, the 5 Series Sedan will also include an active lane change assistant, allowing the vehicle to change lanes at speeds between 60km/h and 180km/h (37mph and  112mph) without manual steering input. Drivers can initiate a lane change by simply confirming their intent with a glance in the exterior mirror, eliminating the need for a turn signal, although if you don’t feel comfortable doing it that way you can still use the turn signal. You can see a demonstration of the technology in the video below.

BMW says the KBA’s decision is a testament to the safe and reliable functionality of both the feature and the active lane change assistant. The system utilizes cameras, ultrasonic and radar sensors, a live HD map, GPS location tracking, and a 360° sensor system. The feature will also improve over time with regular software updates.

The feature is already available in Canada and the US in the BMW 7 Series, but this is the first time it has been included on the 5 Series Sedan in Germany.

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