BMW to develop driverless car technology with Intel, Mobileye

Fri Jul 1, 2016 11:25am EDT
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By Edward Taylor

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote) is teaming up with Intel (INTC.O: Quote) and Mobileye (MBLY.N: Quote) to develop new technology for the auto industry that could put self-driving cars on the road by around 2021.

The alliance highlights a shift in the dynamics of research and development in the car industry, which until recently saw automakers largely dictating terms for suppliers to manufacture their proprietary technologies at specified volumes and prices.

Now carmakers are increasingly striking up partnerships with technology firms using open technology standards, seeking to harness their expertise in areas including machine learning and mapping as they race against Silicon Valley companies such as Google (GOOGL.O: Quote), Tesla (TSLA.O: Quote) and Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) to develop driverless vehicles.

"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,” Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said on Friday at a joint news conference announcing the alliance.

The three companies said their new platform would be made available to multiple carmakers and they expected vehicles with highly and fully-automated driving would be brought into mass production by 2021. It is too early to say which other carmakers would join the alliance, BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger said at a news conference on the outskirts of Munich on Friday.

Sophisticated cruise control systems already enable "hands off" driving as cameras and computers allow cars to automatically brake, steer and accelerate in traffic at low speeds. But drivers are required to stay in control.

Now BMW, Intel and Mobileye will develop cars with even higher levels of automation described as "eyes off," "mind off," and "driver off". This requires much more computing power and software know-how, forcing traditional carmakers to collaborate more closely with technology specialists.

Both industries see huge revenue opportunities in the market for autonomous vehicles, although it is unclear how many drivers will be prepared to relinquish control and how quickly laws will be put in place to allow fully autonomous vehicles on the roads.   Continued...

The logo of German manufacturer BMW is seen at a 1957 BMW 503 Coupe Serie 1 car during a preview of an auction by Swiss Oldtimer Galerie International in Zurich, Switzerland June 10, 2016.    REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann