Automaker BMW is teaming up with suppliers Intel and Mobileye to deploy a fleet of test vehicles, numbering 40 in total, targeting a street date of sometime during the second half of 2017. The fleet deployment was announced Wednesday by the three partners at CES, and follows their July announcement of their initial decision to partner.
Between July and now, BMW, Mobileye and Intel have created what they call a “scalable architecture” for autonomous driving, with the aim of making something that can be adopted by other developers working in the automotive space, and even by other carmakers. The scalability comes because the system can be used either as discreet, pick-and-choose modules at the most basic level, to an entire end-to-end autonomous driving system that leaves only user and product experience design to individual brands and potential clients.
BMW says that this test will occur “globally under real traffic conditions,” so it’s likely the 40 vehicles will be deployed across more than one site. Intel’s Brian Krzanich explained in a press release that the chipmaker is seeing benefits in terms of speed of development and cost by teaming up with others like Mobileye and BMW to share the collective load of bringing autonomous systems to market.
As you might expect, Intel is offering the computing component for this new joint platform, while BMW is handling “driving control and dynamics,” as well as safety validation, and Mobileye is doing computer vision processing and sensors, though its working with BMW on the sensor fusion model. BMW is targeting use of autonomous tech in its iNEXT model for 2021, but the joint partnership is looking to start rolling out hardware samples for the platform along with software updates across the next few years.
Another entrant joining the real-world autonomous testing mix in 2017 is hardly surprising, but the combined talents of these three partners could make this a strong contender as a turn-key solution for smaller companies who want to mine the turn towards self-driving but don’t have the resources or time to build a system on their own.