Certain versions of the BMW 7 Series and i7 flagship luxury sedan, excluding the i7 eDrive50 and i7 M70 xDrive, will soon be offered with optional Level 3 autonomous driving technology.

    The BMW Personal Pilot L3 package will only be offered in Germany for €6000 (~A$10,000).

    It will be available for German 7 Series buyers from December and be fitted in vehicles from next March.

    Level 3 autonomous driving means a driver can take their hands off the steering wheel in certain situations like highways and traffic jams, and even take their eyes off the road.

    The system is required to alert the driver within a certain period of time if they need to take over driving.

    BMW 7 Series vehicles with the BMW Personal Pilot L3 package fitted will be able to experience hands-off driving at speeds of up to 60km/h on motorways with structurally separated carriageways.

    Thanks to a range of cameras, “latest-generation” ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, and a “highly sensitive” 3D LiDAR sensor the car will control its speed, distance to the vehicle ahead and lane positioning by itself.

    BMW also claims thanks to the “sophisticated sensors” that it’s the first system of its kind that can be used in the dark.

    When the BMW Personal Pilot L3 system is activated, drivers can take their eyes off the road and use digital services, such as streaming videos, on the central display.

    The system can be activated and deactivated by a button on the steering wheel. There’s also a symbol on the digital instrument cluster which tells the driver if the system is available.

    Despite being able to take their hands and eyes off the road, drivers must still be ready to take control of the vehicle at any given time.

    As soon as the BMW Personal Pilot L3 system requires the driver to take back control of the vehicle it will send visual and acoustic signals. If the driver doesn’t respond, the car will be brought to a “controlled standstill”.

    BMW isn’t the only company with a Level 3 autonomous driving system. Mercedes-Benz already has a system available to German and US customers, and Honda has offered such a system in Japan.

    As it currently stands, Level 3 autonomous driving technology hasn’t been approved for use on Australian public roads.

    MORE: How autonomous is my car? Levels of self-driving explained

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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