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BMW 7 Series to Add Remote Parking Feature In U.S.

NHTSA exemption means remote-controlled function legal here.

One of many wild tech features on the 2016 BMW 7 Series is Park Assistant Plus, which lets owners “drive” the luxury sedan in and out of a parking space using the key fob. That was initially not available in the U.S. market, but thanks to a new exemption from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), BMW plans to add Park Assistant Plus in the U.S. soon.

A BMW spokesman in the U.S. confirmed that the feature would be made available in the U.S. but said “we don’t have an exact timeframe” for when it will be fully approved and added.

As this video demonstrates, the 7 Series can automatically drive itself into a garage or parking space, and then reverse back out under the control of the driver and the car’s new touchscreen key fob. BMW initially believed that feature would be illegal in the U.S. because federal law — specifically FMVSS 114 — requires all U.S. market cars to have a shift-interlock function. Intended to prevent vehicles rolling away unexpectedly, the law requires a car’s brake pedal to be depressed before its transmission can be shifted out of Park. Because the brake pedal doesn’t move when the 7 Series parking function is activated, BMW declined to offer the feature here.

BMW petitioned NHTSA for an exemption to the rule, and NHTSA agreed that the wording in FMVSS 114 was overly vague. Though the law “requires the service brake to be depressed,” NHTSA told BMW the spirit of the law actually required the brakes to be “applied.” That means BMW’s system is legal, as the car’s computers automatically apply the brakes before shifting the transmission from Park to Reverse.

Check back soon for more details on when Park Assistant Plus will be available in American models of the 2016 BMW 7 Series.

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