Dhe first BMW to be driven by a computer is expected to be on the market in four years. BMW is developing the electric vehicle called “i-Next” together with the American chip group Intel and the Israeli camera specialist Mobileye. Now the Italian-American automaker Fiat-Chrysler has joined the alliance. The companies announced on Wednesday that a corresponding declaration of intent had been signed.
In the past few months, two more partners, the automotive suppliers Delphi and Continental, have joined the technology platform for autonomous driving that has existed for a year. Fiat-Chrysler is now the first automaker to join. And he should not be the last, as BMW assures. “We are still negotiating with others,” said a company spokesman.
Several alliances compete against each other
In the self-driving car, high-performance processors and sensors play just as important a role as automated image analysis, the self-learning map and artificial intelligence. The alliance partners want to put a vehicle on the road in which the driver can read or write emails while driving and only has to reach for the steering wheel again in special situations.
A large number of such technology alliances have emerged in the industry, including the partnership between Daimler and Bosch, which are pursuing the same goal. “In order to advance the technology for autonomous driving, partnerships between car manufacturers, technology providers and suppliers are indispensable,” said Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne in the North American market.
In essence, the partners are concerned with developing their own system into a standard for the industry and also selling it to other manufacturers. That’s why suppliers like Delphi and Continental are important, who will also have to be system suppliers in the world of driverless cars in the future.
Fiat-Chrysler has so far provided the “Waymo” robot cars. This is one of the subsidiaries of the Internet group Alphabet, which also owns the Google search engine business. Waymo emerged from Google’s self-driving car project last year. Google has been researching this for eight years.
Fiat-Chrysler has modified its Pacifica minivan accordingly for Waymo. The fact that Fiat-Chrysler is now turning to the BMW alliance is seen in Munich as proof that its own project is on a more promising path.
In fact, in the end not every manufacturer will have its own technical platform of sensors, computing power and artificial intelligence. Experts assume that only a small number of platforms will remain, also because strict security rules for the systems favor a standard. Because one day the technology for autonomous driving will be as commonplace in every car as airbags or anti-lock braking systems are today.
How do self-driving cars work?