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Autonomous BMW arriving in 2021

Intel inside: Chip wizards Intel and Mobileye have joined forces with BMW to create what will be the company’s first self-driving car before 2021.

BMW partners with Intel, Mobileye to produce self driving car within five years

4 Jul 2016

BMW has laid its autonomous tech cards on the table and announced an agreement with multinational technology companies Intel and Mobileye, that will result in the German car-maker’s first self-driving production vehicle by 2021.

The collaboration is part of BMW’s iNext plan and has been struck to help negotiate the “complex path” to the reality of “highly and fully automated driving” with an all-inclusive strategy that will cover everything from “door locks to the data centre” it says.

With Intel and Mobileye on board, BMW has two world leaders in data management, computing and advanced driver assistance systems to help bring its target to fruition, with a new standardised platform that will align the automotive industry, according to the team.

BMW hinted at its autonomous intent with a trio of concepts revealed earlier this year, but the ride-sharing and self-driving features from the radical Rolls-Royce 103EX, Mini and BMW Vision Next 100 will be rolled out in a series production road car.

Some other brands have predicted that self-driving ability will initially be limited to simpler negotiable roads such as freeways, but BMW says its technology will not be the ‘light’ version touted by others, and will function “not only on highways but also in urban environments for the purpose of automated ride-sharing solutions”.

Mobileye will be contributing its expertise in the area of advanced environmental sensing and has been providing BMW and other manufacturers with camera and processing technology for some time.

Intel will weigh in with its catalogue of computing and data management microprocessors and has also previously worked with the German car-maker.

Many vehicles, including BMW models, already feature semi-autonomous technology such as active cruise control, lane-keep assistance and emergency braking, but the car-maker says those “level two” or “hands off” features are about to be significantly exceeded.

Level three will introduce “eyes off” driving where the driver will not need to monitor surroundings, followed by level four “mind off” and ultimately level five, which will not require a human to be in the vehicle at all.

The top level of “driver off” autonomy will allow BMW’s vehicles to escort themselves to the location of the owner, opening up greater possibilities for ride-sharing and more efficient parking and storage strategies.

BMW says that its new pioneering platform will be made available to other manufacturers, creating a global standard in autonomy, while making the necessary infrastructure and legislation simpler to instigate.

Mobileye co-founder, chairman and CTO Amnon Shashua said the partnership was forged to ensure the speedy development and introduction of driverless cars.

“Today marks an important milestone for the automotive industry as we enter a world of new mobility,” he said. “Together with BMW Group and Intel, Mobileye is laying the groundwork for the technology of future mobility that enables fully autonomous driving to become a reality within the next few years.”

With significant experience in the critical areas of accurate sensing of surroundings, rapid processing of vast amounts of information and vehicle control systems, BMW says its solution to driverless cars will be the safest available.

While the announcement heralds BMW’s first driverless car within half a decade, it will be beaten to the flag by rival Mercedes-Benz, which predicts its foray into autonomy will arrive before 2020.

The announcement comes just days after a driver was killed in the United States at the wheel of a Telsa Model S, which was allegedly driving itself via its Autopilot system, highlighting the significant challenges remaining between now and the availability of series production autonomous cars.

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