Fully autonomous BMW coming in 2021

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BMW Vision Next 100 concept

BMW Vision Next 100 concept

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BMW on Friday announced a partnership with Intel and Mobileye to help spur the development of autonomous driving technology.

Intel is a leader when it comes to artificial intelligence while Mobileye is a developer of monitoring systems autonomous technology relies on. Mobileye supplies monitoring systems to a number of automakers including Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] whose Model S while in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode was involved in a fatal accident last week.

BMW says the goal of its partnership with Intel and Mobileye is to get a fully autonomous car on the market by 2021. The firms also hope to establish an open platform for the technology that could be made available to other firms and thus align the industry on a standards-based platform to quickly bring autonomous cars to market.

Fully autonomous cars will rely on a number of inputs to travel safely. These include highly-detailed 3D maps, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-object (V2X) communication, and advanced monitoring systems. Powerful and reliable computers process the incoming data and then through artificial intelligence make decisions to control the vehicle.

L to R: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, BMW CEO Harald Krüger and Mobileye Chairman Amnon Shashua

L to R: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, BMW CEO Harald Krüger and Mobileye Chairman Amnon Shashua

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BMW and its partners have set a number of milestones on the way to achieving the goal of a fully autonomous car. First is Level 3 where a driver can let the car take control in certain situations, such as on highways. Level 4 is where a driver can let the car take control in all but the most extreme conditions, such as during severe weather. Level 5 which is the ultimate goal is where a car can safely operate without a human onboard.

If all goes to plan, BMW hopes to use its first fully autonomous car, code-named iNext, in ride-sharing fleets, heralding a new era of mobility. This new era could see automakers earn most of their revenues from autonomous cars offering rides rather than direct sales of cars. It’s a goal other firms such as General Motors Company [NYSE:GM], Google, Uber and possibly Apple are targeting.

One of the big questions is who will be responsible should an autonomous car be the cause of the accident. Already some firms, in this case Volvo, Mercedes and Google, have stated they’ll accept liability for autonomous cars. The accident involving the Tesla Model S is still being investigated.

Pictured main is BMW’s Vision Next 100 concept which was rolled out this year to celebrate the automaker’s centennial and preview upcoming technology and design themes.

 
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