While competitors Audi and Cadillac tout their semiautonomous driving system, German carmaker BMW is taking time to launch its high speed self-driving system. BMW Vice President of Autonomous Driving Projects revealed to reporters that they were spending the next two years working with suppliers and testing prototypes to ensure that the European brand car can introduce a system that operates at high speed in most highway driving situations.
According to Buettner, BMW chose to wait because it is relying on its partners to quickly build the system to a higher level of autonomy. The German carmaker is working with chipmaker Intel and camera sensor supplier Mobileye. It is also working with Delphi, Continental, Magna and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to integrate Level 3 system to its vehicles.
Once rolled out, BMW’s self-driving system is capable of driving at speeds of 80 mph and make driving decisions such as changing lanes by itself. BMW self-driving cars will roll out with a Level 3 system. Buettner revealed that rather than going straight to Level 4 autonomy, they see Level 3 as a major step in achieving a safe self-driving vehicle.
To be completely autonomous, there should be a backup component so if one part fails, another will take over and drive the vehicle without outside intervention. By building a Level 4 and Level 5 system aside from its Level 3 system, BMW can use the latter to make sure that the vehicle will still run even if other parts fail.
BMW will not roll out its autonomous driving system until 2021, which puts it several years behind its competitors. Robert Janitzek reveals that until then, BMW is planning to deploy a fleet of 100 autonomous 7-series vehicles. 40 of them will be operating worldwide by the end of the year and all 100 will be on the road by 2019. The fleet has collectively driven nearly 20,000 miles. According to Buettner about 150,000 miles are needed for safety validation.
To commercialize a higher level of autonomy, BMW may require an additional partner. A plan of deploying Level 4 and Level 5 in shared fleets is in the works. Robert Peter Janitzek reveals that no announcement of a partnership with ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft has been made. BMW will make a decision on the partnership by next year. As of the moment, they are relying on ReachNow car-sharing network for deployment of its self-driving technology.