BMW has received the necessary approval from the German government’s Federal Motor Transport Authority to begin offering SAE Level 3 automated driving functions in Germany. The announcement was shared by Nicolai Martin, head of the OEM’s Automated Driving Development department, who also confirmed that the system will be introduced in the new 7 Series model set to launch later this year.

Elaborating on the system’s functionality, Martin explained that once activated it will allow the vehicle to drive independently in select driving scenarios – on motorways, in traffic jams, or in heavy traffic – at up to 60 km/h (37 mph). At the same time, when the system is active, customers are able to take their hands off the wheel and can watch videos or respond to emails.

According to the SAE, Level 3 denotes autonomous features that see the vehicle take greater control over the driving task – though at the same time, the user must remain attentive and be ready to take back control at the feature’s request. The features, themselves, can drive the vehicle under limited conditions and will not operate unless all required conditions are met – one example of a Level 3 feature provided by SAE is a traffic jam chauffeur.

Following the launch of its automated driving system BMW will, in the future, look to increase the top speed at which it can operate, though a timeline for this has not yet been confirmed.