BMW is teaming up with two top technology firms aiming to put self-driving cars on the road by 2021.
Its partners are Intel, the world’s largest computer chip maker, and Mobileye, which makes cameras and software specifically designed for use on vehicles.
Their research and development alliance plans to create a platform will be open for other carmakers and technology companies to use, making it more likely this will become the industry standard.
“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,” Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said.
Both industries see huge revenue opportunities in the market for autonomous vehicles, although it is unclear how many drivers will be prepared to relinquish control and how quickly laws will be put in place to allow fully autonomous vehicles on the roads.
BMW, Intel and Mobileye said they would demonstrate their technology in a prototype in the near future.
Deadly Tesla crash
The announcement comes amid debate about autonomous vehicles after a fatal accident in the US involving a Tesla car which hit a truck.
It was fitted with the company’s ‘Autopilot’ system which allows the car to keep itself in a lane, maintain speed and operate for a limited time without a driver doing the steering.
Tesla said in a statement that Autopilot “does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility”.
The accident has led to questions about whether drivers are being lulled into a false sense of security by such technology.
When asked about the crash, BMW chief executive Harald Krueger said: “The accident is very sad …. We believe today the technologies are not ready for series production,” he added, explaining the alliance had not forecast that until 2021.