BMW and Daimler announce partnership for self-driving cars

BMW and Daimler joined forces to develop self-driving car technology. The two typical rivals said in separate announcements last week that the partnership is a long-term contract to help bring autonomous vehicle technologies to market quicker.

Specifically, the agreement aims to put Level 4 self-driving cars on the road as early as 2024.

Level 4 systems provide “high automation” and nearly full autonomy, according to SAE standards. The difference between Level 4 and Level 3 is the car’s ability to handle an issue when a self-driving system fails. A Level 4 automated car will request the driver take over controls, but if the human driver does not, the vehicle will stop itself. Level 3 systems aren’t as intelligent. In fact, many automaker say they will skip Level 3 and aim directly for Level 4 and 5; the latter is total autonomy.

In BMW and Daimler’s agreement, 1,200 specialists from each company will work together. At first, the goal will be to create smarter driver assistance systems and an architecture for the technology. Both automakers said they will use the technology in their own ways, however, and we won’t see system and technology implemented identically.

Before the agreement, both companies were busy working on self-driving technology. BMW worked to create technology we’ll see shortly in the production iNEXT electric SUV. BMW insists the SUV will include Level 3 ability with Level 4 possible for “pilot projects.” At Daimler, the automaker will launch its first self-driving trials with Bosch in California at both Level 4 and 5. The company was already planning to bring Level 3 systems to market next decade, but the new partnership should speed up the introduction of Level 4 automation.

BMW and Daimler said the partnership is not exclusive and called on other automakers to join and share information to benefit each other. However, BMW and Daimler will get to keep the final products and said a license to the technology will be available when finished.

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