Las Vegas — The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye on Wednesday announced plans to deploy a fleet of about 40 autonomous BMW cars by the second half of 2017.
The fleet of BMW 7-Series test cars will first be deployed in the United States and Europe, with the purpose of demonstrating “the significant advancements made by the three companies towards fully autonomous driving,” according to officials.
“We at BMW Group know that no one of us is smarter in all of these technologies than all of us,” said Klaus Fröhlich, a member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development during a press conference at the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas. “That’s why we collaborate with the best. The best in-class technology partners.”
The German automaker announced its partnership with the two tech companies in July with the intention of introducing autonomous vehicles to the market by 2021.
Israeli tech company Mobileye is seen as a leader in advanced driver assistance systems that are crucial for autonomous vehicles. Its EyeQ5 high-performance computer vision processor will be responsible for processing and interpretation of input from the 360-degree surround-view vision sensors as well as localization.
Tech giant Intel has rapidly been increasing its presence in the automotive industry as a chip and software processing expert, and will do the same for the partnership with its newly launched GO processor solution for autonomous driving.
“We have this end-to-end system defined as a team,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. “I think it’s a very compelling answer.”
The companies said the partnership is meant to be an open-platform, scalable network that other companies can join and use.
“What sets us apart is that we are inclusive. Rather than trying to set us apart from the world. We tell the world to come join us,” said Mobileye Cofounder, Chairman and CTO Professor Amnon Shashua. “There’s lots to be gained by sharing data, sharing resources.”
BMW is the latest to announce or launch a test fleet of autonomous vehicles with the goal of offering driverless vehicles to the public by 2021 or sooner.
General Motors Co. has been testing a fleet of more than 40 autonomous Bolt EVs in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona. It recently announced plans to immediately begin testing self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EVs on public roads in Michigan and will build the next-generation autonomous Bolt EV at its Orion Assembly Plant.
The Detroit-based automaker acquired Cruise Automation, a San Francisco autonomous vehicle software startup, earlier this year. The teams have been working together to quicken GM’s eventual deployment of self-driving cars.
Ford Motor Co. announced last year it wants to have a fully driverless car without steering wheel or pedals on the road by 2021. It has been testing self-driving Fusion hybrids on Michigan roads since July 2015, with safety drivers, and has tested in the winter at MCity in Ann Arbor.
The Dearborn-based automaker announced prior to CES that it will debut its second-generation of autonomous Ford Fusions in Las Vegas. The automaker recently completed 20 upgraded Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous development vehicles to add to its fleet of 10 vehicles that debuted in 2013, with plans to add 60 more by the end of 2017.
Toyota Motor Corp. in April said it will collaborate with the University of Michigan to create a major autonomous vehicle research base in Ann Arbor as part of its $1 billion Toyota Research Institute in California.
The Japanese automaker already has been testing autonomous vehicle technology at its Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor for more than a decade. A group of about 15 workers from the TTC will transfer to the new Ann Arbor facility when it opens, Toyota said.
Others such as Volvo Group, Hyundai Motor Co. and others have launched or announced partnerships for launching fleets of autonomous vehicles.