The BMW 7 Series comes equipped with Level 3 tech that means drivers can remove their hands from the wheel and shift their focus away from the road, even in the rain.

Innoviz, a Tier 1 supplier of LiDAR sensors and perception software, says it is the eyes and brain behind the BMW 7 Series’ Personal Pilot L3. Elad Hofstetter, Chief Business Officer at Innoviz, updates Just Auto on the autonomous vehicle (AV) tech it supplies to BMW.

Elad Hofstetter

What is the overall significance of the BMW 7 Series Level 3 autonomous system/tech?

Simply put, for the first time, drivers can begin to truly realise Level 3 autonomy. For anyone who has recently purchased the BMW Series 7 including the Personal Pilot Function in Germany, all they have to do is push a button and drivers can remove their hands from the wheel and shift their focus away from the road. This is an inflection point for the entire automotive industry to realize a safer, more powerful, and dynamic autonomous experience. 

Is the sensors and perception tech provided being scaled up by Innoviz to make it cheaper and available to more OEMs and market segments?

As Innoviz has continued to demonstrate a track record of success, our company has “graduated” from a Tier 2 supplier to a Tier 1, being able to directly offer automakers a package of solutions. This is mutually beneficial for both us and the automakers because it allows us to provide the same high-quality product at a lower price and by cutting out the middleman, we are able to scale up and offer full systems to automakers.

Furthermore, the combination of our advanced LiDAR hardware and next-gen Perception Software (serving as the eyes and brain of the automobile respectively) are already scalable and automakers can realize these solutions at a competitive price point. One of the other innovations that our team is working on is offering different LiDAR housing solutions so that automakers can have an even more cost-effective solution that can fit additional positioning locations for OEMs.

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What are the big challenges in developing such advanced tech for a supplier such as Innoviz?

Safety, quality, and scalability. Ask any supplier or OEM working in the automotive space what their biggest challenge to achieving success has been and you’ll probably get that same answer.

Rightfully so; automotive products must adhere to the highest safety grades. Innoviz’s products are built to be compliant with international standards and benchmarks ensuring safe-by-design solutions for OEMs and automakers.

When it comes to quality – a major concern for automakers is finding the products that can hold up over the lifetime of a vehicle. By harnessing precision manufacturing with rigorous testing and brilliant engineering, Innoviz has crafted solutions that are built to go the distance for automobiles of all types.   

At Innoviz, we have consistently fused unparalleled R&D prowess and leveraged key automotive relationships to create a product that stands out amongst its peers. These relationships with our dynamic capabilities have allowed us to rapidly develop technologies that can be easily scaled and adapted to different markets. 

Will BMW roll this kind of advanced tech out in a cascade manner to other model ranges?

This is an area that BMW would be better positioned to address. However, our two companies are working to roll out Level 3 in China and in Germany. Level 3 is allowed in Germany as of March this year, and currently, the BMW Series 5 is being validated and tested in China, awaiting regulatory approval to hit the roads. We can definitely expect a greater momentum and more next-gen features coming to more and more models.

Do you see this as a milestone on the way to Level 4/5 AVs?

Level 3 in the BMW Series 7 hitting the roads as of March 2024 is a milestone that will lead to more and more autonomous achievements. Although Level 5 is going to take longer than previously expected, there has been progress made in Level 4 programs, such as Innoviz’ work on projects like Volkswagen ID Buzz. After major road incidents, recent work stoppages and delays by Waymo and Cruise highlight existing Level 4 issues but with the gradual adoption of Level 3, we can expect to see more advanced and mature technology to alleviate these gaps. Despite industry delays, we at Innoviz are confident that the industry is headed to a wide adoption of the next stages of autonomy.  

What kind of timescale would you put on that?

By the end of the decade, we think you’ll see Level 3 becoming more ubiquitous and reach a tipping point that allows it to be more commercially viable for drivers of all types. We can’t have Level 4 without a more accessible Level 3 on the roads and based on internal projections and conversations that we have had with major automakers, the current roadmap will see a large amount of Level 3 vehicles on highways before 2030. We would then say Level 4 would see incremental progress in the second half of this decade.