BMW will put 40 self-driving cars on US and European roads

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BMW self-driving cars to be tested on US and European roads

German car maker, BMW is now gathering data in the race for the perfect autonomous vehicle by dispatching a fleet of self-driving cars on American and European roads by the second half of this year, 2017.

BMW will take the next step to this inevitable outcome by partnering with Mobileye and Intel to introduce fully autonomous vehicles by 2021.

They plan to put 40 of their 7 Series saloons in a number of European Cities and train them to drive in urban areas.

BMW’s head of development, Klaus Froehlich, said that the goal is to apply the gathered data toward producing the iNext, which will supplant the 7 Series as the BMW brand’s flagship model and be capable of full autonomy four years from now.

As MyVehicle has pointed out in previous posts, carmakers and technology companies are in a frantic effort to form partnerships with major technology companies to compete against the tech giants  such as Alphabet ’s Google, which has clocked up more than two million self-driving miles on public roads and also the Tesla Motor Company, with its 1.3 billion miles of data from Autopilot-equipped vehicles.

BMW is now appealing to other carmakers to adopt its own approach so as to help shoulder the massive research costs involved with vehicle autonomy and to ensure speedy development through collaboration and data sharing.


Research sharing

Amnon Shashua, Mobileye’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said, “Those who reach the finish line before you will have their tech become the basis of standardisation...This is why sharing is important.”

Uber and Volvo have already put autonomous cars on the road partnering on test vehicles in Pittsburgh and Arizona and BMW are following suit. Other carmakers have been reluctant so far to heed BMW’s call for adopting its platform. For example, rival company, Daimler has said it prefers to develop its own technology.

For vehicles to navigate without human input through busy cities will require them to see and understand complex situations quite like the way we humans do.

Jerusalem-based Mobileye brings expertise in cameras that model the surroundings while Intel, which is based in California will add the computing capabilities to power artificial intelligence (A.I.).


Network technology

The ideal situation will be if all manufacturers settle on the same network technologies so that all vehicles in the world work off the same systems. Mr Froehlich said. “At the beginning, I think only premium cars will be able to afford such technology...Car manufacturers are pushing into so-called mobility services such as car-sharing and ride-hailing to counter alternatives to private vehicle ownership”.

Kathy Winter, vice-president and general manager of Intel’s Automated Driving Division suggested that carmakers could participate by buying sensors to install in their cars or go deeper with equipment that helps crowd-source data from an autonomous vehicle fleet.

BMW’s main target is individual car owners but the same technologies will be available for ride-sharing fleets as well.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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