BMW Learns From GM and Will Watch Your Eyes to Make Sure You Don't Do Anything Stupid

Illustration for article titled BMW Learns From GM and Will Watch Your Eyes to Make Sure You Don't Do Anything Stupid

Level 2 autonomy is the best we have on any production car sold today, and it’s not that great, really. Level 2 requires the person in the driver’s seat to be ready to take over driving at a moment’s notice. There’s several ways to try to make sure this is possible, from easily defeated steering wheel sensors like Tesla, to Cadillac’s use of cameras to watch your eyes. BMW has announced it will use a similar eye-watching system.

The system will debut in BMW’s new X5 crossover, which will allow for some Level 2 semi-autonomous driving on some highways and for some low-speed (37 mph or less) driving.

The camera is mounted at the top of the instrument cluster in the dashboard, and is an infrared camera, which is why in our picture (taken in an actual X5 by our own Justin Westbrook) shows a purplish grid inside the camera lenses; your normal, human eyes would not be able to see that.


The camera and Level 2 semi-autonomy are available in a $1,700 option package called Extended Traffic Jam Assistant System, which will be available in December, shortly after the 2019 X5's release in November.

BMW has not commented on how all the extended car-eye-to-human-eye contact may further the bonds of truth, and, yes, perhaps even love between owner and car.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:

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Call me an alarmist nutbag, but HTC and Occulus (aka Facebook) can (and do) mine data from the Vive and Rift that the devices collect from infrared projectors.

My question about a camera specifically designed to watch me is this. How is data being collected, and what is its purpose upon collection? It’s been demonstrated that cars can be straight forward to hack (albeit under specific circumstances), but it’s also worth asking how this data will be protected before and after it’s collected. I feel that in 2018, any kind of monitoring technology needs to be scrutinized in this way.

I suppose I’m a bit hypocritical since I have an iPhone X, but at least Face ID data is stored on my device in an encrypted sector of the memory.