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Updated – Is BMW teaming up with Intel, Mobileye to develop autonomous vehicles?

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Earlier in June, BMW announced a switch in the focus of it’s “i” sub-brand from efficiency to autonomous driving. Earlier this week BMW, chipmaker Intel, and machine-vision technology company Mobileye separately said the three companies will hold a joint news conference on Friday, according to Reuters. Without doubt, the purpose of the meeting will be to announce a partnership to develop self-driving vehicles. BMW has already said it will introduce an autonomous flagship model in 2021, according to Reuters, so it looks like the company has assembled its major team players to support that effort. Update- The announcement was made July 1 and confirmed that BMW, Intel, and Mobileye will work together to develop BMW’s autonomous car series.

In a measure of the significance given the announcement and the planned alliance, the top execs of each company will be at the news conference, including BMW CEO Harald Krueger, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, and Mobileye Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Amnon Shashua.

Update- At the news conference, BMW’s Krueger said “At the BMW Group we always strive for technological leadership. This partnership underscores our Strategy Number ONE > NEXT to shape the individual mobility of the future. Following our investment in high definition live map technology at HERE, the combined expertise of Intel, Mobileye and the BMW Group will deliver the next core building block to bring fully automated driving technology to the street. We have already showcased such groundbreaking solutions in our VISION NEXT 100 vehicle concepts. With this technological leap forward, we are offering our customers a whole new level of sheer driving pleasure whilst pioneering new concepts for premium mobility.”

Related: The ultimate self-driving machine: BMW’s ‘i’ division to focus on autonomous cars

Intel’s role on the self-driving technology team would naturally involve chip-making, likely providing the central processing unit (CPU) and support chips required to handle the data involved. Reuters reported that Intel has been looking for a way to get into the autonomous car market, and partnering with BMW would be a high-profile entry.

Update – Intel’s Krzanich said, “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. This partnership between BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will help us to quickly deliver on our vision to reinvent the driving experience. We bring a broad set of in-vehicle and cloud computing, connectivity, safety and security, and machine-learning assets to this collaboration enabling a truly end to end solution.”

Mobileye has already established itself in the business of camera-based sensor functions supporting driver-assistance systems. Its current technologies include pedestrian collision warning, lane departure, forward collision warning, headway warning, speed limit detection, and intelligent high-beam control. Working with BMW and Intel, Reuters expects Mobileye would integrate mapping and the level of decision-making required for autonomous vehicles. According to Mobileye, technology advances it made beginning in 1999 have enabled it to “lead the field of monovision for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).”

Mobileye’s current systems, which BMW has employed since 2007, focus on object detection. Its next generation systems, referred to as EyeQ5, go beyond detection and alerts to decision systems.

Update – During the news conference, Mobileye’s Shashua said, “Today marks an important milestone for the automotive industry as we enter a world of new mobility. Together with BMW Group and Intel, Mobileye is laying the groundwork for the technology of future mobility that enables fully autonomous driving to become a reality within the next few years.  Mobileye is proud to contribute our expertise in sensing, localization, and driver policy to enable fully autonomous driving in this cooperation. The processing of sensing, like our capabilities to understand the driving scene through a single camera already, will be deployed on Mobileye’s latest system-on-chip, the EyeQ®5, and the collaborative development of fusion algorithms will be deployed on Intel computing platforms. In addition, Mobileye Road Experience Management (REM) technology will provide real-time precise localization and model the driving scene to essentially support fully autonomous driving.”

For each of the three companies, BMW, Intel, and Mobileye, an alliance of three strong partners could provide a strong push forward in self-driving vehicles.

Updated on 7-1-16 by Bruce Brown: The alliance between BMW, Intel, and Mobileye was announced as expected and executives from each companies expressed their thoughts.
Article originally published on 06-20-2016