A 40-strong fleet of autonomous BMW test vehicles will be “on the roads” by the second half of the year, according to a new joint announcement from BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye. This fleet of self-driving BMW 7 Series cars will be tested in the US and Europe.
This news follows last July’s announcement that the 3 firms would be cooperating on the development of self-driving vehicles. Since the partnership was first announced, the companies have succeeded in developing “a scalable architecture that can be adopted by other automotive developers and carmakers to pursue state of the art designs and create differentiated brands.”
“Making autonomous driving a reality for our customers is the shared ambition behind our cooperation with Intel and Mobileye. This partnership has all of the skills and talent necessary to overcome the enormous technological challenges ahead and commercialize self-driving vehicles. Therefore, we are already thinking in terms of scalability and welcome other companies — manufacturers, suppliers or technology companies — to participate and contribute to our autonomous platform,” stated Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development.
“This year our fleet of vehicles will already test this joint technology globally under real traffic conditions. This is a significant step towards the introduction of the BMW iNEXT in 2021, which will be the BMW Group’s first fully autonomous vehicle,” he added.
As you would expect, BMW will be responsible for the actual real-world testing of the self-driving fleet, as well as the evaluation of the overall functional safety of the technologies. BMW will also be responsible for the integration of the various components and prototype production.
The press release provides more:
“Within the car, the Intel GO solution offers a scalable development and compute platform for critical functions including sensor fusion, driving policy, environment modeling, path planning and decision making. In the data center, Intel GO offers a wide range of technologies ranging from the high performance Intel Xeon processors, to Intel Arria 10 FPGAs and Intel Solid State Drives to the Intel Nervana platform for artificial intelligence that provides a powerful machine and deep learning training and simulation infrastructure required for the autonomous driving industry.
“Mobileye contributes its proprietary EyeQ5 high-performance computer vision processor offering automotive-grade functional safety and low-power performance. The EyeQ5 is responsible for processing and interpretation of input from the 360-degree surround view vision sensors as well as localization. EyeQ5, in combination with Intel CPU and FPGA technologies, which forms the Central Computing Platform to be integrated into each autonomous vehicle.”
BMW and Mobileye will apparently be working closely to develop the sensor fusion solution — which will integrate LiDAR, camera, and radar inputs.
As a reminder here, the plan is apparently for the test efforts to lead directly to the release of the BMW iNEXT model in 2021. So … don’t get too impatient as a result of the news, we’ve quite a while to go before BMW releases a fully autonomous car.