One of our readers spotted a BMW test vehicle with Personal CoPilot in Munich. On the car we can easily recognize sensor mounts for radar, ultrasound, cameras, and GPS, but no lidar.
The BMW CoPilot is, according to the company’s website, a driving assist system on level 2 of the SAE autonomy levels. The CoPilot is supposed to work for level 3 in a later stage. Level 3 cars expect that a driver can take over control of the car within sufficient notice time. Simply spoken, level 2 to 4 are:
- Level 2: Hands Off
- Level 3: Eyes Off
- Level 4: Mind off
But, as studies revealed, this is a problematic approach as test drivers dozed off and it occasionally took more than 20 seconds to fully understand the traffic situation and context. That’s a reason why most companies are skipping level 3 autonomy. Interesting though is that especially German companies (Audi, BMW) are working on level 3 cars. The only car with level 3 available – an Audi – is legally not allowed to drive in that mode in Germany.
While occasionally cars of German manufacturers are spotted in German cities – and even then, no lidars can be spotted – a full fledged country- or even city-wide effort to test with fleets is missing. To reach level 4 autonomy car makers have to collect millions of miles in real life traffic situations to also capture those thousands of fringe scenarios for safety reasons. So far there are no indications for that and a clear sign how far German car makers are behind Silicon Valley-companies.
This article has also been published in German.