However, it'll be available in Europe.
This is one of those cases where technology is ahead of government regulation. The next-generation BMW 7 Series is due sometime in the second half of next year and expectations are high, as usual. The German automaker's next flagship sedan, as with its predecessors, will be a technological tour de force. Remember, it was the E65 "Bangle Butt" where the original iDrive was introduced back in 2001.
With the upcoming seventh-gen model, another key tech system will be included, just not in the US. Forbes confirmed with BMW's director of development, Frank Weber, that the new luxury sedan will offer Level 3 autonomy. "Level 3 you will see from us in the 7 Series next year," he said. "It's a function you can buy. It will be ready to go at the launch of the 7 Series."
However, it won't initially be offered in the US-spec model because the government has not passed comprehensive legislation for Level 3 vehicles. This is exactly the same problem Audi encountered with its latest A8, the 7 Series' longtime rival. The original plan was for the A8 to be the brand's first Level 3 model, but that was abandoned over a year ago over the regulatory delays.
In contrast, Europe has already passed Level 3 regulation. Automakers, or their insurance underwriters, are the ones who must assume liability if there are any crashes that happen when a vehicle is operating in Level 3 driving mode.
Weber further stressed that we shouldn't expect automakers to certify Level 3 status for new vehicles right away. "In the next years you will not see a single launch where somebody says here's my car and it's Level 3," he said. "It takes 435 million miles simulated and in real life to say [that] our system drives safer than a human driver. When you have the vehicle introduction, with a stable product it takes at least a year to finalize Level 3."
US government safety agencies have not set a timeframe for passing autonomous vehicle legislation, but pressure from automakers probably won't make it happen faster.