BMW has a Level 3 autonomous system for Germany — and it works in the dark

Key Points

  • 🚗 BMW is set to release its Personal Pilot L3, an advanced Level 3 autonomous driving system, in the German market, similar to Mercedes-Benz’s DRIVE PILOT.
  • 🌐 This system allows temporary driver diversion while the car manages speed, distance, and lane positioning, functioning specifically on motorways at speeds up to 60 km/h, standing out for its capability to operate in the dark.
  • 📱 The Personal Pilot L3 permits secondary in-vehicle activities like email management, phone calls, and streaming services, with alerts prompting drivers for manual intervention and bringing the car to a controlled stop if necessary, marking a potential path for release in the US after a successful German launch.

It appears that BMW is following in Mercedes-Benz’s footsteps with the impending release of its Personal Pilot L3 for the German market. Being a Level 3 system, BMW Personal Pilot L3 allows vehicles to operate while drivers are temporarily diverting their attention from the road.

As noted by in a press release, BMW Personal Pilot L3 would be available in the new BMW 7 Series. Considering the system’s L3 nature, the advanced driver assist system would effectively control the car’s speed, distance to the vehicle ahead, and lane positioning without the driver’s input. BMW Personal Pilot L3 is exclusive to the German market for now, and it’s priced at 6,000 euros. 

Similar to Mercedes-Benz’s DRIVE PILOT, which is also a Level 3 system, BMW Personal Pilot L3 only operates under certain conditions. The system, for one, could only be engaged on motorways with structurally separated carriageways at speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph). BMW, however, highlights that its system stands out because it actually works in the dark. 

Once BMW Personal Pilot L3 is activated, drivers could then engage in secondary in-vehicle activities, including those that require them to take their eyes off the road. These include checking and editing e-mails, engaging more deeply in telephone calls, and accessing streaming services. 

This was hinted at in images from BMW’s press release about the program, which depicted video streaming services being broadcast on vehicles’ infotainment displays. Similar to other advanced driver-assist systems, BMW Personal Pilot L3 would alert a driver once a manual intervention is needed. These alerts would come in the form of visual and audible alerts. BMW noted that if drivers are unresponsive, the vehicle will be brought to a controlled standstill. 

BMW’s release of a Level 3 system in Germany bodes well for the system’s release in markets such as the United States. Mercedes-Benz, after all, initially released its DRIVE PILOT system in Germany in May 2022. This year, the German luxury car maker started receiving approvals for its Level 3 system in the United States, starting with Nevada. Provided that its rollout in Germany is successful, it would be unsurprising if BMW Personal Pilot L3 gets a US release sometime next year.

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