BMW, Intel and Israeli Mobileye to launch a fully autonomous car by 2021

4 July, 2016

BMW is officially joining the “autonomy” race. In a press conference held on Friday, the Bavarian car manufacturer announced it will launch a fully automated car by 2021. Chip giant Intel and Israeli ADS pioneer Mobileye will take part in the development of the autonomous driving technology

Mobileye CTO amnon Shashua, BMW CEO Harald Krüger and Intel CEO brian Kraznich

Now it is official: BMW, Intel and Israeli Mobileye join forces in an ambitious project – the development of a fully autonomous car by 2021. In a joint press conference held in Munich last Friday, the three companies laid out their vision for the future of autonomous driving and cars. BMW has set itself a very demanding goal – to launch a full autonomous car by 2021. This future car will be based on Mobileye’s computer vision technology and Intel’s machine learning. The first autonomous model will be based on BMW’s iNext.

BMW’s dramatic move was borne by the Bavarian manufacturers pressing need to close the growing gap between BMW and its competitors in the field of innovation. While its competitors are selling and developing electrical cars with great success, BMW’s first electrical model, the BMWi3 was an utter commercial failure, this, pared with the virtual collapse of its R&D division has led BMW to restructure.

BMW chose an interesting strategy – instead of focusing on the production of an electric car, the company chose to fight on two fronts and develop electric car that will be fully autonomous as well. In order to achive this ambitious goal, BMW joins forces with Intel and Mobileye, two companies that have put autonomous driving on the top of their agenda in recent times.

The cooperation between Mobileye and BMW is not new. The Israeli company’s ADAS systems are integrated in BMW cars since 2010. Mobileye has made a strategic decision strengthen its positions in the autonomous car field. Only this June, the Israeli company has reported it is developing a new chip intended to act as the central computer preforming sensor fusion for fully autonomous driving, the EyeQ5.

5 levels of autonomous driving

BMW does not only outline a technological vision, but a social-urban one as well. The company believes that autonomous driving will make future transportation more secure, efficient and friendly. The goal is to develop a fully autonomous car that can be used in urban surrounding as well as on highways, as part of a public transportation fleet supplying people with mobility solutions.

Autonomous driving is divided into 5 different levels. BMW’s goal is to develop a car (and a wide array of supporting systems) that will enable the driver not only to “occasionally let go of the stirring wheel”, but allow him to divert his eyes from the road (autonomy level 3) as well as his attention (autonomy level 4). This is the deciding autonomy level that virtually changes the cars functionality. The driver is no longer required to concentrate on driving. The car thus becomes a leisurely environment. The driver is free to work, relax or consume entertainment while the car is driving. Level 5 refers to a fully automated acar that does not have any option for human driving, no steering wheel or control. Level 5 lies in the more distant future and is expected not only to change the driving experience, but the economy and society I a profound way.

The challenge of standardization

As noted, BMW is lagging behind its competitors in the field of innovative technologies and autonomous driving. BMW tries to gain an advantage by focusing on standardization. Today, in the “race for autonomy”, each manufacturer develops its own control system, its own sensors, based on unique architectures.  Full autonomous driving will require communication between all the cars on the road, and the current state of affairs may prove inadequate as technology advances.

In the press conference, BMW announced it will develop its technology as an open platform that will enable other producers to make use of BMW’s autonomous driving technology. This might make BMW a leading role in the field of autonomous driving. This strategy may also prove very useful for Israeli Mobileye – if BMW manages to make it systems industry standards as it hopes, many car manufactures will have to adopt Mobileye’s standards and protocols.


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