FRANKFURT, GERMANY --- The new BMW 7 Series is equipped with a driver assistance system, developed by Continental, that uses a single HDR-CMOS camera to carry out three functions simultaneously: speed limit monitoring (SLM), intelligent headlamp control (IHC) and lane departure warning (LDW).

Following several years of development and testing, Continental has approved the driver assistance system and it is now ready for installation in vehicles.

The new speed limit monitoring function makes the driver aware of the current speed limit, interprets every type of speed limit sign (both permanent signs and the electronic variable speed limit signs, plus additional symbols) and verifies this information with data from the navigation system before displaying it, Continental said. The speed limit that applies at any particular moment is shown in the BMW 7 Series instrument cluster and in the optional head-up display on the windshield.

The camera system also monitors the road ahead for the headlamps of oncoming vehicles, the tail lamps of vehicles in front, and for street lighting and automatically changes between main and dipped beam, depending on the situation. This IHC function helps ensure that greater use is made of the main beam to illuminate the road and to provide the driver with the clearest possible view. Studies have shown that the main beam, which can contribute to stress-free and safe driving, is used too rarely.

The LDW system employs Continental technology that was first introduced in March 2007 in the BMW 5 Series. In the BMW 7 Series, however, the system will benefit from additional functions such as road edge detection.

"The special feature of our solution is that it combines the three functions -- SLM, IHC and LDW -- into a single unit and all three functions are served by the same camera and the same microprocessor," said Amrei Drechsler, vice president of the advanced driver assistance systems segment of Continental's Chassis & Safety Division. "Combining these functions makes driving safer under a variety of circumstances since this can produce a more accurate assessment of the traffic conditions."