BMW, Daimler Aim To Lead The Autonomous Vehicle Pack
Automakers score deal to speed up driverless car technology
Ask most experts in the automobile industry about when driverless cars will be the be-all and end-all in the world of transportation, and most would be hard-pressed to provide even a ball park date. But they would add a personal sidebar along the lines that autonomous autos will be here before you know it.
Granted, that‘s a pat answer that even the rental car industry is paying attention to, since the technology for a vehicle with nobody behind the wheel just might be the crowning touch to innovations that the likes of Enterprise and Avis are working on. With artificial intelligence being used to beef up fleet connectivity to bolster efficiency, the arrival of autonomous vehicles would be a bonus for rental companies that have the futuristic infrastructure to accommodate them.
But that’s down the road. Hopefully speeding things up to make sure driverless four-wheelers become a practical reality was the news in June from Germany that BMW and Daimler signed a long-term contract to boost the technology for autonomous vehicles that will be capable of driving on highways and parking in urban areas unassisted.
There’s also a target date in mind, which is 2024 when those driverless features will be available in BMWs, Chryslers, Audis, Volkswagens and other models under the BMW Daimler umbrella. The initiative will see no less than 1,200 experts in full work mode that aims to fulfill those autonomous objectives with a heavy emphasis on safety.
This year, the venture will also involve testing of vehicles being tested for level-three autonomy in San Jose. Vehicles at this stage have been developed to the point where an autonomous vehicle is capable of overtaking another car on the highway as well as using on- and off-ramps to and from freeways.
BMW in particular has been working on autonomous vehicle technology since 2006, while Daimler currently claims that it’s the only original equipment manufacturer in the world to deliver subsequent levels of driverless technology to the global auto industry.
Interestingly enough, Daimler was among at least 25 companies trying out its autonomous technology in a series of state-approved road tests in 2018 in California. In terms of overall performance, Google’s Waymo venture outperformed the entire pack with a fleet of nearly 100 autonomous vehicles driving nearly two million kilometers without human assistance. Placing a distant second was GM’s Cruise venture, followed by Apple.