BMW’s Eye-Activated Lane Changing Might Finally Put Those Turn Signals to Use

BMW’s Highway Assistant will let you confirm lane changes with just a look. And yes—it’ll use the blinker.

byNico DeMattia|
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BMW is adding its updated Level 2 driver assistance system to several of its 2024 models, including the new 5 Series, 7 Series, X5, X6, X7, and iX. The technology already enabled its cars to drive hands-free at speeds up to 85 mph, so long as road conditions were met. Now, though, BMW is adding a new option called Active Lane Change, which lets drivers switch lanes simply by looking at a side mirror.

The feature works like this: when driving in semi-autonomous mode, the car can suggest a lane change and, if the driver decides to go ahead with it, all they have to do is look at the corresponding side mirror. Doing so will activate the turn signal, and the vehicle will then steer itself into the adjacent lane.

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BMW's Level 2 system provided for lane changes before, but they weren't triggered in quite the same fashion. In Bimmers like the iX, the driver would have to flick the turn signal stalk to confirm a move. This new function takes things one step further, by allowing the driver to execute the lane change without using their hands.

It's unclear if merely a quick glance at the mirror will allow the lane change, or if the system requires the driver to lock eyes with it for a few seconds. Either way, I can see quite a few accidental lane changes in the future because, if the car is suggesting a lane change, the first thing I'm probably doing is checking the mirror before confirming. Car sensors and cameras are pretty reliable nowadays, but I still like to check their work myself, to make sure I'm truly clear. However, BMW typically allows for some degree of personalization with its assistive features, so it's possible that drivers will be able to fine tune the mirror-look behavior to their preference, if not disable it entirely.

On the flip side, this function might just mean more BMW drivers using turn signals, and I think that's something we can all get behind.

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