BMW receives commercial L3 autonomy approval

German OEM becomes first automaker to offer L2 and L3 systems in one vehicle

BMW receives commercial L3 autonomy approval
German OEMs lead the industry in L3 autonomy deployment

German OEM BMW has received approval to deploy Level 3 automation software in its 7 Series vehicles, making it the first automaker to offer L2 and L3 autonomous driving in the same vehicle.

L3 autonomy refers to functionalities which fully autonomously drive the EV but only in specific circumstances, and require that the human driver be ready to take over at any point at a moment's notice.

BMW's L2 software, which it calls Highway Assistant, acts as an advanced cruise control feature, allowing the vehicle to centre itself in lanes, as well as change lanes on highways at speeds up to 81mph. Its L3 system is primarily aimed at allowing the vehicle to control stop and start, as well as steer itself in traffic jams, but is limited to speeds under 37mph.

"BMW is the first carmaker in the world to receive approval for a combination of a Level 2 driving assistance system (the BMW Highway Assistant) and a Level 3 system in the form of the BMW Personal Pilot L3 in the same vehicle," the OEM says.

While EV leader Tesla has been making the most noise about autonomy across the automotive industry in recent months, it is German OEMs that are furthest along in bringing L3 autonomy to the market.

BMW and peer Mercedes are so far the only OEMs who have committed to commercialising L3 autonomy in private cars. Given that L3 is the first point at which drivers may take their eyes off the road, approval to commercialise the technology involves lengthy processes to settle which liabilities the automaker will take on in the event of accidents.

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BMW's Personal Pilot L3, is currently only available in Germany for 6,000, making it considerably cheaper than EV leader Tesla's FSD software, which sells at $12,000 on top of the price of the EV. Furthermore, Tesla cannot boast of an L3 software suite, currently branding its FSD technology as "Level 2 plus".

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