There’s a new track in the works in the Czech Republic, but don’t expect to see just any vehicle take to the new loop. Rather, this test track is made specifically for the testing of self-driving and electric cars from automaker BMW, as the company looks to expand its footprint into the future. While BMW has a long history of luxury, it’s now looking toward the next step in the evolution of vehicles, and its plans appear to be gin with this new Czech project.
The German company is investing more than 100 million euros (or $118 million) into the new track, and is said to be creating “several hundred jobs” in the process. The 1,200-acre property will be located near the German border of the Eastern European nation, and is about two and a half hours away from BMW’s primary development site in Munich.
Noting that the current testing facilities in Aschheim, Germany “no longer have sufficient capacity to meet testing requirements,” BMW stated that the decision to move to the Czech Republic was a strategic one. “We found the ideal conditions and grounds we need for vehicle testing in Sokolov,” said Dr. Herbert Grebenc, BMW’s Senior Vice President of Real Estate Management in a statement. “Opening our first development location in Eastern Europe will create new opportunities and marks a milestone in the history of our company.”
BMW previously announced plans to debut its automated iNext in 2021, which is said to feature level-five autonomy. That means that a driver would be able to take a nap even as the car is in motion. BMW will be working closely with newly acquired Mobileye to develop the car, and will certainly be leveraging its new test track as well. “At the planned proving facility in Sokolov, we will continue to advance ground-breaking topics, such as electrification, digitalisation and automated driving – for example, through safety-testing for assistance systems,” Grebenc noted.
The track is slated to open at the beginning of the next decade.
“Today, we are on the threshold of automated driving,” Grebenc said at a news conference in Prague. “This means making massive investments in our future.”
- World’s first highway test facility for autonomous vehicles opens in Michigan
- Volkswagen tests autonomous parking, aims for 2020 commercial launch
- Lyft to send its own self-driving cars out on the country’s biggest test track
- University of Michigan hopes new drone facility pushes students to great heights
- Toyota halts autonomous car tests on public roads following Uber crash