The Autonomist
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BMW and Mercedes team up with autonomous car deal

In the latest pairing up of auto makers to share costs on the development of autonomous cars, BMW and Mercedes announced that they have signed a strategic deal on the technology today.

The deal will focus on the joint development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and automated parking (all to SAE Level 4).

In addition, further talks are planned to extend the cooperation to higher levels of automation in urban areas and city centres. The companies say that this underscores the long-term and lasting nature of the undertaking, which will extend to encompass a scalable platform for automated driving.

The non-exclusive cooperation is also open to other OEMs and technology partners, with results being made available to other OEMs under license.

A key aim of the cooperation is the swift market launch of the technology, which is expected to feature in passenger car systems for private customers from 2024.

The two companies will each implement the technologies in their respective vehicles independently.

The cooperation will see more than 1,200 specialists working together, often in mixed teams.

They will be based at the BMW Group Autonomous Driving Campus near Munich, the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre in Sindelfingen, Germany and the Daimler Testing and Technology Centre in Immendingen, Germany.

Efforts will focus on developing a scalable architecture for driver assistance systems, including sensors, as well as a joint data centre for data storage, administration and processing, and the development of functions and software.

Today also saw the publication of a white paper on driverless cards by a consortium including Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, Continental, Fiat Chrysler, HERE, Infineon, Intel and Volkswagen, the BMW Group and Daimler.

The report, entitled Safety First for Automated Driving, explores the relevant safety methods for Level 3 and 4 SAE automated driving and introduces a traceability system, which extends from the primary goal – being safer than the average driver – right down to the individual safety objectives of the various components.

The BMW Group has been working on highly automated driving since 2006 and has established a non-exclusive platform with technology specialists, suppliers and OEMs.

The technology’s scalability from Level 2 - 4 both enables a high level of flexibility and ensures it will be viable in the future.

Special software is used at the centre to speed up development of the platform and set new standards. Around the world, more than 70 test vehicles are trialling the latest technology.

They collect data in order to improve machine learning with artificial intelligence through simulations and test new Level 2 - 5 functions out on the road.

The generation of technologies that is currently under development will go into series production as Level 3 automation in 2021 in the BMW iNEXT where it will also be Level 4 enabled for pilot projects.

Mercedes parent Daimler has been working on series development projects not only for specific Level 3 vehicles but also for Levels 4 and 5.

This year will also see the launch in Silicon Valley, of its first pilot programme, with Bosch, on self-driving vehicles (Levels 4/5) in urban environments.

This will be the next milestone within the existing cooperation between both partners and the cooperation will continue as planned.

However, it won’t be until early next decade that Daimler is expected bring Level 5 vehicles to market.

By Ray Molony, Technology and Markets Editor

Thursday 4 July 2019