BMW, Intel and Mobileye announced a partnership Friday to spearhead development of a self-driving car.
With the help of the U.S. chipmaker and the Israeli software firm, the world’s largest luxury carmaker aims to develop by 2012 a car that can drive itself at least for part of a trip.
“The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but also reach the so-called ‘eyes off’ level and ultimately the ‘mind off’ level, transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time,” the three companies said in joint statement.
The partnership is being marketed under the hashtag #FutureOfDriving2021.
The move comes after the announcement yesterday of a fatal accident in the United States involving a self-driving vehicle. Electric carmaker Tesla Motors, based in Silicon Valley, said a driver died in an accident while riding a Tesla Model S on autopilot earlier this year. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into Tesla’s autopilot system.
BMW, Intel and Mobileye said they aim to develop an industry standard for self-driving cars and make it an open platform, available to other firms.
At a joint presentation with Intel and Mobileye, BMW Chief Executive Harald Krüger said the accident was very sad and cautioned of the current use of self-driving services. “Therefore, we are taking the step in 2021,” Mr. Krüger said. “We believe today the technology is not ready for series production.”
Industry experts assume that partially self-driving cars will be a reality by 2020 in China and the United States, where Google, Tesla Motors and Audi have been developing the technology. In Germany, VW and Mercedes are also experimenting with autonomously driving cars and trucks.
BMW’s head of development, Klaus Fröhlich, said new sensor technology was vital for self-driving cars. Together with VW’s luxury car unit Audi and Daimler, BMW bought digital maps maker HERE from Nokia last year for €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion) to enable self-driving cars.
“What is currently failing is a millimeter-precision, high-speed measurement to scan all objects that surround a car and interpret the environment, for instance, to rapidly enable an evasive maneuver,” Mr. Fröhlich told Handelsblatt.
The IT industry, especially in the United States, was building up new competencies, which would also be used in the car industry, he said, adding that Intel and Mobileye offered these skills.
“With HERE we have access to high resolution maps, which are a second key requirement for autonomous driving,” Mr. Fröhlich said. “Now we will work on the industrialization of sensor technology and data processing in the car. Deciding in this matter are the right partners.”
Mobileye would devote at least 100 people to the joint project, its chairman Amnon Shashua said during the presentation. Intel would dedicate “several hundred millions of dollars,” Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich said.
Markus Fasse covers the aviation and automobile industry for Handelsblatt. Gilbert Kreijger is an editor with Handelsblatt Global Edition in Berlin, covering companies and markets. To contact the authors: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com