BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye are joining forces to bring self-driving vehicles into production by 2021. The companies have agreed to a set of milestones to deliver fully autonomous cars, based on a common reference architecture. Near term, the companies say they 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.

The three companies are working together on standards to define an open platform for autonomous driving. The platform will address level three to level five automated driving, and will be made available to other car vendors and industries, say the companies.

The levels of autonomy are defined on how involved the driver is in the driving process. Level three is reached when drivers can take their ‘hands off’ the steering wheel, and ‘eyes off’ of the road. The fourth level is attained when drivers can take their ‘minds off’ the driving, and focus on other things – like working or entertainment – as the car drives itself. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle, on a technical level, to achieve the final stage of traveling ‘driver off’ (level five), without a human driver inside.

The BMW iNEXT model is expected to be the foundation for BMW Group’s autonomous driving strategy, and set the basis for fleets of fully autonomous vehicles, on both highways and in urban environments as automated ride-sharing solutions, says BMW.

The processing of sensing will be deployed on Mobileye’s system-on-chip, the EyeQ 5, and the collaborative development of fusion algorithms will be deployed on Intel computing platforms. Intel is also providing the computing power needed for autonomy, with Atom and Xeon processors. Mobileye Road Experience Management (REM) technology will provide real-time precise localization.

“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.

[Image courtesy: BMW]