Press conference BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye (from left to right): Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, and Amnon Shashua, Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Professor.

Press conference BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye (from left to right): Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, and Amnon Shashua, Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Professor.

BMW Group @ CES 2016, BMW i Vision Future Interaction

BMW Group @ CES 2016, BMW i Vision Future Interaction

BMW has announced alliance with Intel and Mobileye to bring fully autonomous cars to streets by 2021.

The foundation of the fully autonomous cars for BMW will be electric BMW iNEXT.  The trio intends to create an open platform for autonomous driving, from door locks to the data center.

The open platform means also that other car makers could use the system or maybe even join the project.

The first prototype will be demonstrated soon, while next year BMW plans tests in fleets.

"The common platform will address level 3 to level 5 automated driving and will be made available to multiple car vendors and other industries who could benefit from autonomous machines and deep machine learning.

The companies have agreed to a set of deliverables and milestones to deliver fully autonomous cars based on a common reference architecture. Near term, the companies will demonstrate an autonomous test drive with a highly automated driving (HAD) prototype. In 2017 the platform will extend to fleets with extended autonomous test drives."

And yes, the conference was held July 1st, so the recent new that the NHTSA was investigating a Tesla Model S fatal accident while in Autopilot mode put a fairly dark mood on the event, and some of the conference questions surrounded that event.

Scene Of May 7th Tesla Model S Fatality (via ABC News/Bobby Vankavelaar)

Scene Of May 7th Tesla Model S Fatality (via ABC News/Bobby Vankavelaar)

Possibly as a result, BMW’s Harald Krüger often noted that “safety comes first” during the event, while  adding the death was "really very sad" and that he felt "technologies today are not ready for serious production".

Tesla's statement on the accident (which the Florida Highway Patrol indicated was caused by a tractor trailer that "failed to yield right-of-way" when driving across a highway perpendicular to the Model S) did recognize a potential short-coming of the Autopilot system in avoiding a collision in a special chain of circumstances.

"Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S."

The aftermath of the accident doesn't put the focus on whether or not the Tesla was at fault (as by the rules of the road it wasn't), but rather if autonomous driving needs to be set to a higher standard.

Should predictive analysis be greater?  Should greater diagnostic abilities of on-road conditions be in place? 

For example:  better recognizing the side of a trailer vs an overhead road sign, or awareness of a collateral circumstance that could lead to an at-risk situation - such as reckless/improper driving which is not occurring in the current path of a vehicle, but could impact it in the future.  

These are things an alert human mind still digests more fully and quickly than autonomous drive technology today.

EE Times also reported on Amnon Shashua, Mobileye's co-founder, CTO and chairman from the event on the Tesla accident:

“Companies need to be very transparent about limitations of the system. It’s not enough to tell the drivers to be alert, it needs to tell them why they need to be alert. It’s not just a lawyer talk.”  He added, “I think a company as reputable as BMW does things right in that respect.”

On timeline/functionality for autonomy:

Amnon Shashua (Mobileye) said that Level 3 (eyes-off) in 2021 would be limited to highways, but that on a highway "you are completely safe"

“That means you can really take eyes off, and there is a significant grace period from the time when the system is compromised until you really need to take control. And if you don’t take control, the system will know how to stop aside slowly in a safely manner.”

Level 5 autonomy (driver off) is also in the cards for 2021, but still with some limits - specific locations and routes.

“We are envisioning fully autonomous driving in a geo-fenced area. Take a city like Munich. A certain (geo-fenced) area provides safe, completely Level-5 autonomous driving.”

BMW Vision Next 100 showcases autonomous driving

BMW Vision Next 100 showcases autonomous driving

Press release:

"Munich – July 1, 2016. BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye are joining forces to make self-driving vehicles and future mobility concepts become a reality. The three leaders from the automotive, technology and computer vision and machine learning industries are collaborating to bring solutions for highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021.

The future of automated driving promises to change lives and societies for the better. But the path to get to a fully autonomous world is complex and will require end-to-end solutions that integrate intelligence across the network, from door locks to the data center. Transportation providers of the future must harness rapidly evolving technologies, collaborate with totally new partners, and prepare for disruptive opportunities.

Steady. Steady. Use the car for balance if you must BMW CEO Harold Kreuger

Steady. Steady. Use the car for balance if you must BMW CEO Harold Kreuger

Together with Intel and Mobileye, the BMW Group will develop the necessary solutions and innovative systems for highly and fully automated driving to bring these technologies into series production by 2021. The BMW iNEXT model will be the foundation for BMW Group’s autonomous driving strategy and set the basis for fleets of fully autonomous vehicles, not only on highways but also in urban environments for the purpose of automated ridesharing solutions.

BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye are convinced that automated driving technologies will make travel safer and easier. The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable the drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but reach the so called “eyes off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle, on a technical level, to achieve the final stage of traveling “driver off” (level 5) without a human driver inside. This establishes the opportunity for self-driving fleets by 2021 and lays the foundation for entirely new business models in a connected, mobile world.

On July 1, 2016, the three partners were present at the BMW Group Headquarters in Munich to express their commitment to strive for an industry standard and define an open platform for autonomous driving. The common platform will address level 3 to level 5 automated driving and will be made available to multiple car vendors and other industries who could benefit from autonomous machines and deep machine learning.

The companies have agreed to a set of deliverables and milestones to deliver fully autonomous cars based on a common reference architecture. Near term, the companies will demonstrate an autonomous test drive with a highly automated driving (HAD) prototype. In 2017 the platform will extend to fleets with extended autonomous test drives.

“Today marks an important milestone for the automotive industry as we enter a world of new mobility. Together with BMW Group and Intel, Mobileye is laying the groundwork for the technology of future mobility that enables fully autonomous driving to become a reality within the next few years,” said Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Professor Amnon Shashua.

“Mobileye is proud to contribute our expertise in sensing, localization, and driver policy to enable fully autonomous driving in this cooperation. The processing of sensing, like our capabilities to understand the driving scene through a single camera already, will be deployed on Mobileye’s latest system-on-chip, the EyeQ®5, and the collaborative development of fusion algorithms will be deployed on Intel computing platforms. In addition, Mobileye Road Experience Management (REM) technology will provide real-time precise localization and model the driving scene to essentially support fully autonomous driving.”

Intel brings a comprehensive portfolio of technology to power and connect billions of smart and connected devices, including cars. To handle the complex workloads required for autonomous cars in urban environments Intel provides the compute power that scales from Intel® Atom™ to Intel® Xeon™ processors delivering up to a total of 100 teraflops of power efficient performance without having to rewrite code.

“Highly autonomous cars and everything they connect to will require powerful and reliable electronic brains to make them smart enough to navigate traffic and avoid accidents,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. “This partnership between BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will help us to quickly deliver on our vision to reinvent the driving experience. We bring a broad set of in-vehicle and cloud computing, connectivity, safety and security, and machine-learning assets to this collaboration enabling a truly end to end solution.”

With its Strategy Number ONE > NEXT, the BMW Group has developed its framework to remain the driving force behind premium individual mobility. This approach will become driving reality with the BMW iNEXT model in 2021, heralding a new era of mobility.

“At the BMW Group we always strive for technological leadership. This partnership underscores our Strategy Number ONE > NEXT to shape the individual mobility of the future,” stated Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “Following our investment in high definition live map technology at HERE, the combined expertise of Intel, Mobileye and the BMW Group will deliver the next core building block to bring fully automated driving technology to the street. We have already showcased such groundbreaking solutions in our VISION NEXT 100 vehicle concepts. With this technological leap forward, we are offering our customers a whole new level of sheer driving pleasure whilst pioneering new concepts for premium mobility.”

EE Times, Hat tip to George K!