BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) is a German automaker, founded in 1916, producing luxury cars, motorcycles, and engines.
The company started developing self-driving cars since 2005. In 2007, BMW showed a system called TrackTrainer, which independently operated a BMW 330i car on a racing track. In the television program Top Gear, the famous presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, tried this car himself.
In 2011, BMW tested a semi-autonomous 5-Series sedan covering about 3,000 miles in Germany on the Munich-Nuremberg highway. The vehicle was equipped with LIDAR, cameras, radar, ultrasound, and accurate GPS maps. The equipment was installed in such a way that its presence on the car was almost unnoticeable.
Starting in 2012, the Driver Assistance system appeared installed on the BMW 7 Series Sedan for the first time. As of today, Driver Assistance is available for any BMW model. The main functions of the system include Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go, Steering and lane control assistant, Lane keeping assistant, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning. There is also the Active Protection feature which should be spoken about separately. It provides such functions as tightening the seatbelts on the front seats, closing the windows and sunroof, and bringing the passenger seats to a vertical position in any critical situation; emergency braking; driver warning if they are tired and distracted from the road.
In early 2013, BMW and the international auto parts manufacturer Continental merged for a period of 2 years to jointly develop technologies for self-driving cars. At the time of the merger, the Continental Company had already had experience in the field of autonomous driving technology developing adaptive cruise control systems, emergency braking assistance, etc. In 2013, Continental invested $130 million in research, primarily aimed at developing their driverless car.
At the beginning of 2014, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, BMW showed its updated technology for self-driving vehicles called ActiveAssist, mounted on the upgraded 2-Series Coupe and 6-Series Gran Coupe. Unlike Driver Assistance, ActiveAssist has a higher degree of control over autonomous driving designed for more difficult conditions (driving across national borders or construction sites).
In September 2014, BMW merged with the Internet giant Baidu to develop its autonomous driving technology. Baidu is a large Internet player with cartographic online services and the most popular search engine in China. The vehicles tests were conducted on Chinese roads in Beijing and Shanghai. In November 2016, Baidu and BMW ceased their cooperation due to differences in ideas and development pace. Baidu turned out to be more ambitious with the desire to bring their driverless car to the market by 2018, while BMW intends to do it only in 2021.
On June 30, 2016, it was reported about the BMW’s merger with Intel – the largest chip manufacturer in the world, and Mobileye – an Israeli company engaged in automated driving assistance system development. At the same time, BMW announced its intention to release its first self-driving car named iNext in 2021. On March 13, 2017, Intel bought Mobileye for $15 billion to speed up and succeed in creating a self-driving car.
From mid-2017, the automaker is going to start testing a fleet of 40 Series 7 models on the roads of Europe and the USA. Munich will be the first city to test autonomous vehicles.
On May 16, 2017, the press release of Delphi Automotive said that BMW and Intel join Delphi – one of the biggest companies producing car spare parts. Delphi is also engaged in driverless vehicles development. Delphi will work to integrate the components produced by other partners into a single working system. They will be able to deliver the necessary parts and elements to customize the systems if required.
BMW, as many other companies that are engaged in driverless cars creation, will provide these vehicles through the car sharing service. Such service for BMW is ReachNow. For the first time, it was launched in April 2016.
On June 14, 2017, IBM announced its participation in BMW CarData platform creation. This system allows BMW ConnectedDrive users to exchange mobile data among their vehicles and to provide or share data with third parties (for example, with automobile workshops or insurance companies).
On June 20, 2017, Continental was reported to start cooperating again with BMW and other companies of the alliance like Intel and Mobileye. The German automotive manufacturing giant Continental will be engaged in automated system function development and integration, including motion control and driver monitoring functions. The company will also conduct simulations and validate all added functions.