BMW Sets Up Dedicated Centre to Develop Tech For Autonomous Driving
BMW has already forged a long-term partnership with US firms Intel and MobilEye.
André Müller, BMW Group software developer for highly automated driving inspects hardware installed in a BMW sedan (Image: AFP Relaxnews)
German executive car maker BMW is opening a dedicated center for the advancement of autonomous driving technology as part of its ambitious plans to deliver a true self-driving car by 2021.
Based in Unterschleissheim near Munich, the new campus will be home to 2000 experts working on every aspect from software development to real-world testing. But the decision to create a base of operations in Munich is also an attempt to ensure Europe is firmly on the map as a hotspot for next-generation automotive technology development.
"The road to fully-automated driving is an opportunity for Germany's automobile manufacturing base. The decision to develop and road-test these vehicles in the Munich area illustrates how the BMW Group and the whole region can benefit from this shift in the automotive industry," said Klaus Fröhlich, member of the Board of Management, responsible for Development at the BMW Group.
Detroit and Silicon Valley are also trying to establish themselves as the de facto home of the car of the future so it makes sense that European carmakers, whose legacy stretches back 130 years, would want to court and keep the world's leading experts within their own continental borders.
However, in a fully connected world, it is impossible for any single company to work in isolation. In order for BMW to bring the iNEXT -- the name it has given its self-driving car -- to fruition on schedule, it has already forged a long-term partnership with US firms Intel and MobilEye.
Intel's role in the alliance is to develop in-car processors and to help crunch through the huge amounts of data the project will create. "Highly autonomous cars and everything they connect to will require powerful and reliable electronic brains to make them smart enough to navigate traffic and avoid accidents," explained Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.
MobilEye's expertise is in sensing and localization, and its partnership with BMW is one of several it has announced in recent months. For instance, at the 2017 CES in January, MobilEye will be demonstrating the fruits of its partnership with autonomous driving tech company Delphi over a specially created real-world course in Las Vegas.
The companies claim the system, called the Centralized Sensing Localization and Planning (CSLP) automated driving system, is the most advanced autonomous driving system currently in existence.
As for the partnership with BMW, officially announced in July, the companies are already on target to start testing a prototype autonomous vehicle fleet in urban conditions in early 2017.
"[This] future development site for autonomous driving will enable us to launch the BMW iNEXT, the first self-driving BMW, onto the market in 2021," said Fröhlich.
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