BMW Develops Eye-Activated Self-Driving Tech

The new electric i5 and 5-Series include tech allows drivers to make automated lane changes with their eyes

Graham Hope

May 4, 2023

2 Min Read

BMW has revealed more about its forthcoming electric i5 and new 5-Series – including details of what it says is a “world first” automation feature, lane changes by eye activation.

Production of the sedan and its EV sibling gets underway in Bavaria, Germany, in the summer, with the cars set to be launched in October.

And as anticipation for the newcomers hots up, the company is gradually making public more information about what we can expect.

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The company’s latest release focused on what is said to be the cars’ “extensive array of systems for automated driving and parking” delivered via a suite of high-resolution cameras and high-precision radars and control units, plus software fine-tuned over thousands of miles of development.

And one of the most intriguing elements of the new tech is a feature called Highway Assistant, which can be used at speeds of up to 85 mph. As per similar features from other automakers, the system manages distance control and the steering inputs required for lane control – meaning the driver can be “hands off” while remaining attentive to the situation on the road and observing surrounding traffic.

However, what really marks Highway Assistant out is a clever feature facilitated by the interior camera which is generally used to monitor the alertness of the driver. In what is claimed to be a first for a production car, it also can enable automated lane changes via eye activation.

The tech works when the human driver looks in the exterior mirror. Taking this as its prompt, the system is then able to initiate the lane change process and carry out the necessary movements to the steering wheel and adjustments to the speed, once the driver has confirmed that switching lanes is their intention. Previously this maneuver was carried out by use of the indicator, which remains an alternative option.

According to BMW, Highway Assistance will be part of its Driving Assistant Professional package, which will be offered as an option on the new models in the United States, Canada and Germany, and will significantly enhance the “safety and comfort” of the 5 Series and i5.

Availability in other markets has yet to be confirmed.

Although a date has yet to be announced for the world premiere, BMW says it is now just “weeks away” and is promising the newcomers will deliver an “outstanding driving experience” that delivers a blend of sporting potency and excellent ride comfort.

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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