Two of Germany’s biggest automakers, Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz) and BMW Group have signed an agreement for a long-term strategic cooperation, which will focus on joint development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and self-parking, all to SAE Level 4.
Further talks are planned to extend the cooperation to higher levels of automation in urban areas and city centers, highlighting the long-term and lasting nature of the partnership, which will extend to encompass a scalable platform for automated driving. The non-exclusive cooperation is also open to other OEMs and technology partners, with results being made available to other OEMs under license. A key aim of the cooperation is the swift market launch of automated driving technology, which is expected to feature in passenger car systems for private customers from 2024. The two companies will each implement the technologies in their respective series products independently.
The cooperation will see more than 1,200 specialists working together, often in mixed teams. They will be based at locations including the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center (MTC) in Sindelfingen, the Daimler Testing and Technology Center in Immendingen and the BMW Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleissheim, near Munich. Efforts will focus on developing a scalable architecture for driver assistance systems, including sensors, as well as a joint data center for data storage, administration and processing, and the development of functions and software.
Daimler has been working on series development projects not only for specific Level 3 vehicles, but also for Levels 4 and 5. Later this year see the launch in San José, California, of its first pilot program, 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. Early next decade, Daimler will bring to the market not only highly automated (Level 3) vehicles, but also fully automated (Level 4/5) vehicles. It is the only OEM in the world to be so well-positioned to apply autonomous driving in every relevant context, from passenger cars and vans to buses and trucks, and is therefore relying on scalable solutions to deliver highly-automated driving.
BMW 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. Since 2017, work in this area has been consolidated at its Autonomous Driving Campus, and the industrialization of the technology is being advanced with the support of its partners. Cutting edge agile software development is used at the Campus to speed up development of the platform and set new industry standards. Around the world, more than 70 BMW test vehicles are trialing the latest technology, collecting data in order to improve machine learning with artificial intelligence (AI) through simulations and test new Level 2-5 functions out on the road. The generation of technologies 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.