BMW detailed plans to launch autonomous vehicles in 2021 by leveraging a newly formed partnership with Intel and Mobileye.
In a statement, the German-headquartered auto maker announced it will make use of Intel's expertise to provide the computing and processing power required to handle the "complex workloads required for autonomous cars in urban environments." Mobileye brings expertise in sensing and location to the table, along with road experience management (REM) technology.
The goal of the partnership is to deliver "fully autonomous cars based on a common reference architecture," BMW stated. The first step towards that will be to demonstrate autonomous driving in test vehicles in 2017, and then fully automated vehicles in 2021.
In setting out its timeline, BMW is the first major auto maker to set a date for the launch of autonomous vehicles, Bloomberg reported.
BMW chairman Harald Krüger explained that the partnership will deliver "the next core building block to bring fully automated driving technology to the street," and complements BMW's previous investment in mapping company Here.
The company said the partnership will focus on what it calls levels 3, 4, and 5 of the autonomous vehicle scale. Level 3 enables drivers to take their eyes off the road; level 4 to take their mind off the road; and level 5 to remove the need for a driver entirely.
That final level could pave the way for autonomous 'ride sharing' vehicles -- a sector that consultancy Roland Berger told Bloomberg could generate 40 per cent of auto makers' profits by 2030.
However, BMW announced its plans as U.S. authorities opened an investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla car using an 'auto pilot' feature offered by the electric car maker. Tesla stated that initial indications were that the vehicle failed to recognise the white side of a truck's trailer against a bright sky, BBC News reported.
In a keynote at the TM Forum Live event in Nice during May, BMW CIO Klaus Straub explained that the company is focussing on big data and analytics, cloud, IT security, computer performance, and mobile devices in cars as part of a digitisation strategy that aims to position the company to take advantage of "dramatic" changes to the auto market over the next decade.
Straub explained that digitisation will form a core element in autonomous cars, connectivity, and communication within cars.
BMW outlines digitisation challenges for a connected future
Consumers apparently are asking for IoT, even though they may not know it
Here consortium on brink of expanding membership
SEAT, Accenture highlight connected car's place in broader IoT market
Juniper Research: Connected car entertainment revenue to reach $600M in 2020