Is this BMW’s answer to the Ford-Volvo-Google partnership?

It’s safe to say that the race to develop autonomous driving technology is heating up as more and more automakers are looking to the tech industry in an effort to form partnerships with some of the biggest tech giants in the business. German automaker BMW appears to be the latest to do it, as the company just announced a partnership with computer chip manufacturer Intel and collision detection specialist Mobileye. This partnership wants to find solutions so that the automated driving will be put into series production by 2021.

The partnership is reportedly centered on Mobileye’s fifth-generation chips, called the EyeQ5. Information is minimal on what the chip’s capabilities are, but it is expected to give self-driving cars better reflexes by using real-time road mapping when drivers are disengaged. For its part, Intel is reportedly involved in the partnership to provide the central processor unit that will coordinate with Mobileye’s new software to translate the technology into future BMW models.

It’s worth noting that alliances between automakers and tech firms have grown in recent months, all because of the same pursuit of developing autonomous driving vehicles. Back in April 2016, Ford, Volvo, Google, and ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft all struck a deal to expedite their own development of autonomous driving technology.

BMW is in a unique position with its partnership with Intel and Mobileye as it can leverage the core strengths of both companies into its own development of self-driving vehicles. More details are expected to be revealed during a joint press conference that will be attended by BMW CEO Harald Krueger, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, and Mobileye Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Amnon Shashua.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

BMW To Partner With Intel And Mobileye To Develop Autonomous Driving Technology
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There’s nothing surprising about this announcement considering more and more automakers are approaching the pursuit of autonomous driving technology with the kind of urgency that hasn’t been seen in the industry in a long time.

This BMW-Intel-Mobileye partner is the latest proof of the seeming importance of being the first to really break through with autonomous driving tech and I can’t help but wonder why more automakers aren’t taking the same approach. If anything, it makes it easier having tech firms as partners because each company can rely on their expertise in their respective fields.

There are some questions surrounding this partnership, which I’m sure the three CEOs will address when they make their joint conference. But for now, I’m wondering how the dynamics of the relationship will work, especially between Intel and Mobileye, which already has a partnership with STMicroelectronics, long considered as a direct rival to Intel. Maybe they’ve found a way to work around it, which I think is the case since BMW probably wouldn’t sign off on this alliance without any assurances from both of its partners.

The partnership among the three firms will likely involve development of Mobileye’s fifth-generation system, which is still in development. That should give the alliance enough time to take that tech to a level wherein it can easily be applied into autonomous driving. No timetable has been set, but don’t expect any results to come out soon.

Whatever happens, these partnerships are fast becoming a norm in the industry. That just shows how critical it is for an automaker to be the first to bring autonomous driving tech to the table.

Press Release

BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye are joining forces to make self-driving vehicles and future mobility concepts become a reality. The three leaders from the automotive, technology and computer vision and machine learning industries are collaborating to bring solutions for highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021.

The future of automated driving promises to change lives and societies for the better. But the path to get to a fully autonomous world is complex and will require end-to-end solutions that integrate intelligence across the network, from door locks to the data center. Transportation providers of the future must harness rapidly evolving technologies, collaborate with totally new partners, and prepare for disruptive opportunities.

Together with Intel and Mobileye, the BMW Group will develop the necessary solutions and innovative systems for highly and fully automated driving to bring these technologies into series production by 2021. The BMW iNEXT model will be the foundation for BMW Group’s autonomous driving strategy and set the basis for fleets of fully autonomous vehicles, not only on highways but also in urban environments for the purpose of automated ridesharing solutions.

BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye are convinced that automated driving technologies will make travel safer and easier. The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable the drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but reach the so called “eyes off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle, on a technical level, to achieve the final stage of traveling “driver off” (level 5) without a human driver inside. This establishes the opportunity for self-driving fleets by 2021 and lays the foundation for entirely new business models in a connected, mobile world.

On July 1, 2016, the three partners were present at the BMW Group Headquarters in Munich to express their commitment to strive for an industry standard and define an open platform for autonomous driving. The common platform will address level 3 to level 5 automated driving and will be made available to multiple car vendors and other industries who could benefit from autonomous machines and deep machine learning.

The companies have agreed to a set of deliverables and milestones to deliver fully autonomous cars based on a common reference architecture. Near term, the companies will demonstrate an autonomous test drive with a highly automated driving (HAD) prototype. In 2017 the platform will extend to fleets with extended autonomous test drives.

“Today marks an important milestone for the automotive industry as we enter a world of new mobility. Together with BMW Group and Intel, Mobileye is laying the groundwork for the technology of future mobility that enables fully autonomous driving to become a reality within the next few years,” said Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Professor Amnon Shashua.

“Mobileye is proud to contribute our expertise in sensing, localization, and driver policy to enable fully autonomous driving in this cooperation. The processing of sensing, like our capabilities to understand the driving scene through a single camera already, will be deployed on Mobileye’s latest system-on-chip, the EyeQ®5, and the collaborative development of fusion algorithms will be deployed on Intel computing platforms. In addition, Mobileye Road Experience Management (REM) technology will provide real-time precise localization and model the driving scene to essentially support fully autonomous driving.”

Intel brings a comprehensive portfolio of technology to power and connect billions of smart and connected devices, including cars. To handle the complex workloads required for autonomous cars in urban environments Intel provides the compute power that scales from Intel® Atom™ to Intel® Xeon™ processors delivering up to a total of 100 teraflops of power efficient performance without having to rewrite code.

“Highly autonomous cars and everything they connect to will require powerful and reliable electronic brains to make them smart enough to navigate traffic and avoid accidents,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. “This partnership between BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will help us to quickly deliver on our vision to reinvent the driving experience. We bring a broad set of in-vehicle and cloud computing, connectivity, safety and security, and machine-learning assets to this collaboration enabling a truly end to end solution.”

With its Strategy Number ONE > NEXT, the BMW Group has developed its framework to remain the driving force behind premium individual mobility. This approach will become driving reality with the BMW iNEXT model in 2021, heralding a new era of mobility.

“At the BMW Group we always strive for technological leadership. This partnership underscores our Strategy Number ONE > NEXT to shape the individual mobility of the future,” stated Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “Following our investment in high definition live map technology at HERE, the combined expertise of Intel, Mobileye and the BMW Group will deliver the next core building block to bring fully automated driving technology to the street. We have already showcased such groundbreaking solutions in our VISION NEXT 100 vehicle concepts. With this technological leap forward, we are offering our customers a whole new level of sheer driving pleasure whilst pioneering new concepts for premium mobility.”

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