Global automakers BMW and Daimler will join forces in a new long-term partnership to co-develop automated driving technologies, including levels of automation all the way up to SAE Level 4, which is defined as full self-driving, no human intervention required, but only under exactly defined conditions or domains — steering wheel and brakes not necessarily even present in the car.
This BMW/Daimler partnership includes developing automated driving technologies that precede Level 4, too, including advanced driver assistance features like smart cruise control and automated parking. And while it isn’t in scope of this specific arrangement, the two car makers also say that talks continue about expanding their cooperation to cover highly automated driving within denser urban areas and in city driving conditions.
It’s a non-exclusive arrangement, which is the new normal in autonomous vehicle technology development, where cross-manufacturer partnerships have been increasingly common, and where we’ve also seen legacy automakers turn with fair frequency to startups and younger technology companies to supplement their in-house development efforts.
Daimler and BMW aim to develop a “scalable platform for automated driving” through their combined efforts, which the companies say is open for participation from both other automakers and tech providers. The resulting platform will also be made available to other OEMs under license.
Independently, Daimler is currently working on deploying its first Level 4/Level 5 self-driving vehicle pilot program in an urban environment in partnership with Bosch, and aims to have that operational this year. BMW’s next big automated driving push will be alongside its iNEXT lines of vehicles, with Level 3 technologies targeted along with the first of those models in 2021. Both partners expect to implement the results of this partnership specifically in their own respective model series vehicles beginning in 2024, however.