BMW is reportedly planning to enable the 2016 7-Series‘ Parking Assistant Plus feature for the U.S. market. Just my luck! I reviewed the BMW 750i just last week, and it had this system, but it was disabled.
Currently only available overseas, the remote parking system allows the driver to exit the vehicle before it is put into a tight parking space. Without any human driver on board, the sedan can automatically navigate itself into and out of garages or parking slots.
U.S. safety regulations require the brake pedal to be depressed before a vehicle can be shifted out of ‘park.’ BMW interpreted the law as an explicit ban on self-parking systems that operate without a human driver on board.
Amid the new ‘collaborative’ safety initiatives between major automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency is said to have acknowledged that the spirit of the law relates to brake application rather than physically moving the pedal, according to an Automobile report. Officials are consequently planning to approve an exemption to permit BMW’s Parking Assistant Plus feature in the U.S. market.
There is still no word on exemptions for laser headlight systems, used in several Audi and BMW vehicles in other markets. Despite the potential safety implications of next-generation headlight technology, the NHTSA has been studying the matter for at least eight years without explicitly granting approval for more advanced forms of laser and LED-array headlights.
The NHTSA has promised to fast track its rule-making process for autonomous technology.
Initial reports suggested exemptions would be limited to prototype vehicles, though the BMW parking provision hints at a broader willingness to remove legal barriers from sensible technologies in production vehicles.