Daimler AG and BMW Group have announced that the two German automotive giants will be joining forces to develop next-generation automated driving technologies. Initially, the focus will be on advancing the development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and parking features (up to Level 4), the companies said. The automakers have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop this technology, which is key for future mobility. The companies view this partnership as a long-term, strategic cooperation, and aim to make next-level technologies widely available by the middle of the coming decade.
This planned co-operation offers obvious advantages in the form of the skills and experience of the individual partners, and a scalable architecture that will speed up and streamline development of future technology generations. Besides the synergies, new technologies will be faster to market, with shorter innovation cycles, the partners noted. For both companies, the safety of vehicle occupants and other road users is of the utmost importance and a key reason for making the reliability of systems a key criterion for the collaboration.
The companies said that the joint development work will be carried out via a scalable architecture covering several stages of automation, with Levels 3 and 4 enabling automated driving on highways. Additionally, the partners plan to discuss the possibility of extending their collaboration to cover higher levels of automation, both on highways and in urban areas. These considerations underline the sustainable, long-term nature of the cooperation, which includes the aim to create a scalable platform for automated driving. The companies noted that development of current-generation technologies and ongoing collaborations of the two companies will remain unaffected and continue as before. Daimler and BMW will also explore additional partnerships with other technology companies and automotive manufacturers that could contribute to the success of the platform.
At Daimler, the company has been working on series development projects not only for specific Level 3 vehicles but also for Levels 4 and 5. The company has programmed its systems largely in-house, and in 2019 will see the launch of its first pilot programme with Bosch, on self-driving vehicles (Levels 4/5) in urban environments. This will be the next milestone within the existing cooperation between both partners and the cooperation will continue as planned. In the beginning of the next decade, Daimler will bring to the market highly-automated (Level 3) vehicles, as well as fully-automated (Level 4/5) vehicles.
Meanwhile, BMW Group has been working on highly automated driving since 2006, and has established a non-exclusive platform with technology specialists, suppliers and OEMs to take it to series maturity. In addition, since 2017, work in this area has been consolidated at the Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleissheim, and the industrialisation and scalability of the technology is being advanced with the support of partners. Latest agile software development is used at the Campus to speed up development of the platform and set new industry standards, the company said. It added that over 70 test vehicles are trialling the technology around the world, collecting data to improve machine learning with artificial intelligence through simulations, and test new Level 2-5 functions on the road. The generation of technologies that are currently under development will go into series production as Level 3 automation in 2021 in the BMW iNEXT, where it will also be Level 4-enabled for pilot projects.
Ola Källenius, Member, Board of Management, Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, said autonomous driving is one of the most revolutionary trends for the company at the moment. The entire Daimler Group is working very hard on it, and as always the top priority is safety, he added. Källenius further said, “Instead of individual, stand-alone solutions, we want to develop a reliable overall system that offers noticeable added-value for customers. Working with the right partners, we want to make significant advances in enhancing the performance of this technology and bring it safely on the road.”
As the company continues to pursue its strategy, it is combining the expertise of two technology leaders, noted Klaus Fröhlich, Member, Board of Management, Development, BMW AG. He said that at the BMW Group, long-term partnerships within a flexible, scalable, non-exclusive platform are fundamental to advancing the industrialisation of autonomous driving. Combining the key expertise of the two companies will boost the collective innovative strength and speed up the spread of this technology, Fröhlich added.