‘Left turn assistant’ is a system designed to identify oncoming vehicles and stop your car from entering their path if a crash is imminent. (In Australian conditions, the system would effectively be ‘right turn assist’ as our vehicles are right-hand drive.)
The system uses cameras and sensors to determine when you are about to turn across an intersection or a lane of oncoming traffic. Three lasers scan the road ahead for vehicles (which can be as small as motorcycles) up to 100 metres away travelling in the opposite direction.
If an approaching vehicle is detected but you continue to attempt to turn, the turn assistant system will automatically apply the brakes to prevent a collision. The system only works at speeds up to 10km/h, ensuring that the autonomous braking action is not too dramatic.
The driver can override the system at any time, with any accelerator or brake pedal inputs instantly deactivating it.
Designed to enhance the functionality of left turn assist is ‘car-to-x communication’, a WLAN (wireless local area network) system that allows vehicles to communicate with each other.
Vehicles equipped with the technology will recognise each other within a range of 250 metres. If the system detects a potential incident, the headlights and horn of the vehicle continuing on its path will be activated to alert the turning vehicle. If the turning driver does not react, left turn assist will step in to stop the car and potentially prevent a crash.
BMW confirmed to CarAdvice that if left turn assistant proved to be a viable technology, it would not be introduced into production vehicles until 2016
If it does make its way into left-hand drive production vehicles, BMW has confirmed it will also adapt it for right-hand drive markets further down the track.