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FRANKFURT, June 18 (Reuters) - Daimler said it had hired Sajjad Khan, a senior BMW executive responsible for the Bavarian auto maker's Connected Drive programme, in a coup for the Stuttgart-based maker of Mercedes-Benz cars.
Equipping cars with an Internet connection opens the door to real-time traffic navigation, intelligent fleet management, car-sharing and autonomous driving.
Khan was vice-president at BMW responsible for developing more "intelligent" cars, which use Internet connectivity to help drivers with decisions about which route to take or where to find parking.
Self-driving and connected cars could evolve into a $50 billion market, analysts at Exane BNP Paribas have estimated.
Autonomous cars can navigate difficult routes by using data gathered from onboard sensors and cross-reference this information with high-definition maps that can be downloaded once a route has been determined.
For example, BMW's Connected Drive system can be used to go online and check timetables of public transport systems to see if a driver would get to his destination faster by switching to a train or underground.
A spokesman for Daimler said Khan had started work at Daimler in March.
Khan had previously worked for DaimlerChrysler in 2001, working in the field of infotainment and materials purchasing, before moving to Magna in 2007 and BMW Group in 2011.
BMW declined comment.
Reporting by Edward Taylor, editing by David Evans