Certainly it’s in their DNA to be aggressive. BMW has been one of the brand that we’ve admired for several decades for the active drive and dynamics they offer. Touted as the brand with the “Ultimate Driving Machine” in its lineup the expectations are extremely high for this brand to deliver the power and performance that would impress us. Now, BMW is looking toward a new type of driving to give us the perfect ride, but not from the seat where we’re in charge of the experience, instead, the car will be doing the driving for us.
It’s no secret that many automakers are working toward autonomous driving and some have gone so far as to promise them on the road for public use by a certain date. While some may feel that fully autonomous vehicles are still a ways off, the team at BMW says they can deliver on the primes of having self-driving cars on the road by 2021, which is the same year that Ford promised to do the same. The goal is to move from cars that need some driver intervention to those that won’t need this at all in the near future.
Before the end of 2017 BMW will have a fleet of 7 Series vehicles on the road that will begin the job of testing the self-driving technology. BMW has partnered with Intel and Mobileye to create the systems that can get the job done. BMW will handle the driving controls and the vehicle dynamics while the other two companies will develop the brains of the system that will take the vehicle through the progression from Level 3 to Level 4 and eventually to Level 5. The differences and the largest jump will be from Level 3 to Level 4 because the driver will no longer be required to pay attention to the drive.
The best way to describe Level 3 driving is what we see on some vehicles right now. These models are semi-autonomous and require the driver to continuously pay attention and be ready to take over the controls when needed. Once the vehicle is rated at Level 4 the responsibility for the drive is placed upon the systems of the vehicle and no longer placed in the driver. This move will take some time, but BMW is ready to be bold and aggressive with the testing and development of these autonomous systems to make the driving work.
The new brand that BMW will use for the autonomous vehicles offered will be called iNext. With the announcement of offering an autonomous driving vehicle by 2021 the race is on. Will BMW be the first to the market with self-driving car for sale to the public or will the pedal less car of Ford be the first. As we move forward and more companies enter the race to offer us car that can drive themselves we’ll get the pleasure of learning which company makes it way to the market for us to enjoy the drive first.