BMW launched series 7 with Innoviz’s sensor inside

Following joint efforts lasted 4 years, Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor arrives to the market with the new BMW 7 series. Last week, the German car maker launched the new generation of its luxury cars, expected to be available at November 2022. The new series includes gas-powered cars, hybrid cars and – for the first time – an all electric model, BMW i7, equipped with a battery expected to range to 300 miles at each charge.  

Starting at 2023, the new 7 series will be BMW’s first to incorporate the Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor, a sensor defined by BMW as “the most powerful sensor in the industry”. BMW market the new models as the cutting edge technology, regarding driver safety and assistance applications, autonomous driving, integrated augmented reality and digitization. Innoviz’s sensor is considered a key component in the sensors array that support these applications, together with full-range radar with vertical separation, and an eight-megapixel windshield camera.   

In March 2022, Omer Keilaf, Innoviz’s CEO, revealed that the sensor developed for BMW has reached to the design freeze phase, after successfully passing all examinations. This means that from that moment, no changes are allowed to the BMW approved plan, and it will be produced in its current design. Mass production is expected already at 2022.

The car drives better than you

As part of its pre-launch marketing, BMW invited bloggers and leading automotive reporters for a test drive of the new models, which led to reviews and columns in leading industry websites such as Drive, Which Car, HT Auto, Forbes and more. One of the testers was “The Drive” reporter Chris Tsui. In its article “BMW Joins the Hands-Free Driving Fight”, Tsui was impressed by the ADAS and the autonomous driving systems relied on Innoviz’s sensor, and summarized the experience: “BMW’s latest flagship sedans are probably better at driving than you are”. He also noted that the semi-autonomous tech and improved self-parking capabilities make the car “more like a machine driver rather than a machine meant to be driven”.

The i7 model includes Level 2 hands-on Assisted Driving applications, assuring rendition of adaptive cruise with lane-keep. Below 85 mph, hands-off semi-autonomous highway cruising mode can be used, similar to Tesla’s Autopilot mode. In this mode, the car performs the steering, accelerating, and braking activities autonomously, with the driver required to keep looking at the road without holding the wheel. The system is also capable of autonomously move from one lane to the other. When approaching a highway exit, the driver may instruct the system to automatically move gradually from one line to the other, as long as the traffic is not too heavy or the exit is too close.   

Self navigation into your home garage

BMW announced that in the future it will provide the level-3 autonomy at these models, at up to 37 mph, and also in non-highway roads. For this type of autonomy, the Innoviz’s LiDAR sensor is essential. Commentators from the automotive industry estimate that this capability will be highly attractive at the Chinese market, where the average speed within urban areas is relatively low due to traffic loads.  

Tsui go on and reviews the new model’s autonomous parking capabilities, and says he never encountered such superior capabilities. Although the BMW 7 series vehicles are fairly large, the orientation and maneuvering capabilities allow the car to park even in challenging parking spots. In addition, it is possible to program a route in advance, so the car will automatically navigate, for example, from the gate through the driveway and park itself in the garage. This function can be performed even when the driver is outside the car. “This could very well become among the best in the business, a more-than-worthy competitor to GM’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot”. 

BMW to Equip its Vehicles with Tactile Mobility Road Sensing Technology

Haifa-based Tactile Mobility announced earlier this week a commercial agreement paving its way to the heart of the global car industry: The car manufacturing giant BMW will incorporate Tactile’s road-sensing software in all of the car models it will produce starting in mid-2021. Techtime was the first to report Tactile negotiations with a German carmaker. BMW has selected so far three ground-breaking Israeli technologies for its next-generation models: Mobileye’s ADAS system, Innoviz’ LiDAR sensors, and Tactile’s road sensors .

This is Tactile Mobility’s first commercial agreement with an OEM, and BMW is the first car manufacturer to adopt such road sensing technology, and in such extent. In 2019, BMW sold a record 2.5 million vehicles. Tactile founder Boaz Mizrahi told TechTime that BMW didn’t hesitate to adopted the technology even though it is a new type of technology in the automotive world. “They are known as an early adopters of new technologies. We’ve invented a new kind of technology in the automotive world, and they wanted to be the first to leverage it.”

Tactile Mobility provides a software suite which utilizes vehicles’ built-in, non-visual sensors to collect and analyze data about vehicle and road dynamics, enabling smart and connected vehicles to analyze the road surfaces below their tires as well as modeling vehicle systems performance and road conditions. In-vehicle, real-time data includes attributes such as available grip level, which signifies the specific vehicle and road traction limits.

The missing piece for Autonomous Driving

Noteably, the solution was initially intended to supplement autonomous driving systems, as the company claims autonomous driving cannot be based solely on visual sensors like cameras and LiDAR, as they do not percieve other “sensory” factors such as tire condition and road conditions. Nevertheless, the collaboration with BMW illustrates that the technology has great value in non-autonomous vehicles as well. According to Mizrahi, the software will provide all of the vehicle’s systems with a new dimension of data that will improve the functionality of all other systems in the vehicle.

“This data will improve the functionality and safety of many in-vehicle systems. Take for example vehicle-to-vehicle distance measurement systems: when the road is slippery you should maintain a larger distance from the vehicle ahead as when the road conditions is optimal, but a visual sensor measures only the distance and does not take into account the condition of the road. The same goes for steering and other functions”

The company’s platform consists of two components: VehicleDNA is an anonymized representation of each vehicle’s systems characteristics, including suspensions, powertrain, braking efficiency, tire health and more, and SurfaceDNA is a bundle of mapping layers of road attributes, conditions and distresses that offers an in-depth view of driving environments to better anticipate road conditions ahead and pre-configure vehicle systems.

Tactile Mobility was founded by Mizrahi in 2011. He holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Technion university. In the late 1990s, he founded Charlotte Web Networks, which was purchased in 2002 by MRV Communications for an estimated $700 million.