A partnership has been forged between BMW, Intel and Mobileye for the development of self-driving car technology that will be used for BMW's iNext autonomous electric vehicle, set for a 2021 release.
The group will be looking to create what they hope will become the industry standard for safe self-driving technology, with the platform of the partnership to be an open one. That means other companies would be able to use the technology in the development of their own driverless cars.
In a press release, Intel said that the goal of the partnership is to be able to develop systems in which drivers will not only be able to safely take their hands off the car's steering wheel, but also take their eyes off the road and their minds off of driving. As such, travel time within self-driving cars can be converted into leisure or work time.
The final stage of the technology would allow self-driving cars to move without drivers inside, allowing for the potential of fleets of driverless vehicles by 2021 for automated ride-sharing services.
Intel, while holding the status as the biggest chipmaker in the world due to its overwhelming presence in the market for computer processors, still lags behind other firms, including Infineon Technologies and NXP Semiconductors, in supplying chips to the automotive industry. The project would require Intel to commit hundreds of its employees, along with hundreds of million of dollars.
Meanwhile, Mobileye, a company based in Jerusalem, has been the early leading supplier for the components, including cameras and software, that allow vehicles to map out their surroundings. General Motors and Tesla Motors are two other clients that have used the firm's products.
The partnership between these two companies is integral to BMW's plans for its iNext self-driving vehicle, especially as consumers are now basing their purchases not on the horsepower that vehicles provide but rather on the technology that they contain.
If other manufacturers eventually use the platform being developed by BMW, despite being a competitor in the automobile industry, it could propel significant innovations in self-driving car technology and its future on the road.
The news comes just as reports broke out regarding the first-ever fatality caused by a self-driving car, with Tesla Motors revealing that a car crash while a Tesla Model S was on Autopilot mode killed the driver.
With a 2021 release date for the iNext, though, the question remains as to whether the electric vehicle would already be too late. Competitors such as Tesla Motors, Mercedes Benz and Audi are looking to make significant progress in their electric car offerings years before the planned release of BMW's product.