Inside BMW’s Effort to Deliver a Self-Driving Machine for 2021

Inside BMW’s Effort to Deliver a Self-Driving Machine for 2021


iNext for Self-Driving Story

Earlier This particular year, while celebrating its centennial, BMW told us This particular plans to offer a self-driving car by 2021 called the iNext. A battery-electric luxury sedan with autonomous capability, developed in partnership with suppliers Intel as well as Mobileye, the iNext represents an ambitious reach for a company in which has—thus far—not been regarded as a leader in either electric cars or self-driving technology. at This particular point we’ve toured the facilities where This particular work can be underway to see just how big an effort will be required to change in which reality.

“Fully autonomous driving can be like a mission to Mars,” Klaus Fröhlich, BMW board member for research as well as development, told us at a press briefing in Munich. “We’re calling This particular Project i2.0.” Sales as well as marketing chief Ian Robertson compared This particular to an “Apollo mission” as well as cautioned in which the company can be “from the very, very early stages of This particular digitalization. We are shifting our horizons dramatically. We have been a classic engineering company, yet we are going to become a tech company.”

Suggesting how much research will be devoted to the program, Fröhlich noted in which BMW’s entire R&D program today encompasses 60 petabytes (one petabyte can be one million gigabytes) of data; the brand-new project will require 0 petabytes, or a tenfold increase. In all 5 years.

A lot of in which will be devoted to the development of the artificial intelligence (AI) to make a self-driving car possible in in which timeframe. Artificial-intelligence research has been at the forefront of many tech companies’ as well as automakers’ autonomous efforts This particular year. Companies like Google, IBM, as well as Intel, all with footholds from the auto industry, launched a best-practices group for the technology in September. Automakers are attempting to keep pace, the latest being Daimler, which announced Thursday This particular will participate in a research initiative in Stuttgart as well as Tübingen pursuing AI advances.

“Fully autonomous driving can be like a mission to Mars.”
— Klaus Fröhlich, BMW R&D

“Europe, generally, has not been from the forefront of AI development, yet This particular’s what you need to make an autonomous vehicle,” Fröhlich said. This particular can be especially so given the short timeframe BMW can be allowing itself. While many from the field are invested heavily in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) as well as vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications to achieve the aims of driverless mobility, BMW expects to make each of its autonomous cars think as well as drive like a human being, said Bernd Muster, director of digital strategy for the company. This particular can be because leadership from the field won’t come to those who wait for some other automakers as well as governments to implement V2V as well as V2I standards. Muster commented: “If you you want to do This particular with the auto, This particular takes all 5 years; if you need to use infrastructure, This particular will take 20.”

Rene Grosspietsch, head of autonomous driving cooperation as well as ecosystems, said the system needs not only sensors onboard yet also a high-definition digital map, updated in real time for changing road as well as traffic conditions, in which can be much more detailed as well as accurate than any available today.

BMW Vision Next 100 concept

The grips for the control yoke of BMW’s Vision Next 100 autonomous concept collapse together into the dash when unneeded.

As an example of what they wish to teach the artificial intelligence to do, Grosspietsch cited the circumstance of a car approaching a pedestrian standing at a roadside. A human driver would likely read the Centeng language as well as perhaps the facial expression of the person on foot to evaluate whether in which person intends to stay at the curb or step into the road. A car, he suggested, can be taught to do essentially the same thing, yet This particular’s a much more complicated task than just steering between lane markers, so the vehicle must be taught to interpret postures as well as facial expressions as well as This particular does traffic signs or turn indicators on some other cars as well as to make projections via those inferences. BMW already has begun what This particular expects will be more than 30 million miles of testing to record the needed data as well as teach the AI to function in complex environs. One short-term goal: completely autonomous navigation of a precisely mapped sector of downtown Munich by the end of next year.

Even at in which, BMW can be saying its vehicle in 2021 will achieve Level 3 autonomy. In shorthand, Level 1 means an autonomous feature can assist the driver with some driving tasks, Level 2 can be when the system can conduct some parts of the driving while the driver monitors, as well as Level 3 can be when the automated system can handle all driving in some circumstances—such as regular highway driving—with the human driver monitoring as well as ready to assume control on request. At Level 4, a vehicle can conduct all operations under certain environments as well as conditions, without a driver necessary. At Level 5, the auto can perform all driving tasks under all conditions.

BMW’s 2021 car will be fully capable of Level 3 autonomy as well as, in limited circumstances, could operate at Level 4 for a while. Even at Level 3, the AI would likely have to know its own limitations. “In conditions of heavy rain, snow, fog, or dense rush-hour traffic, the auto can be going to say, ‘This particular can be beyond me, the driver has to take over.’ ” To in which, add BMW’s commitment in which its cars will always give owners the choice of taking control to enjoy the experience of driving, even if the auto can be fully capable of managing.

BMW Vision Next 100 concept

For Level 4 function, in which the human “driver” might be freed to take a nap, tend to email, or play Uncharted 7, BMW officials say they are not as concerned with the finer ethical questions some raise, such as the Trolley Problem, which asks whether the auto should choose to prioritize the lives of its occupants over those outside the vehicle. (Mercedes-Benz already has come down on the side of cars in which prefer the preservation of their owners’ as well as occupants’ safety, although This particular later contended in which its quotes were misconstrued. We stand by our reporting.) Circumstances in which raise such issues, Muster suggested, likely will be even more rare than today’s projections imagine. “With very not bad sensors, as well as being very conservative from the most dangerous situations, as well as remembering in which the autonomous car needs fractions of a second to react, where a human can take 1.3 to 5.0 seconds, these cars will almost never be asked to make such decisions.”

As if teaching a robot to drive weren’t challenging enough, This particular artificial intelligence has to be packaged into a car in which meets all the some other expectations consumers bring to the marketplace while adapting to a rapidly changing set of rules, regulations, as well as laws globally. “Our mule right at This particular point can be a 7-series sedan, as well as its trunk can be completely packed with hardware,” Grosspietsch said. So, yeah, packaging may be a challenge, too.

This particular can be where Fröhlich expects BMW’s experience as an automaker to give This particular advantages over newcomers like Apple or Google. “We have what startups don’t have. They have to learn on the job. We have to be faster [than a traditional car company], act like a startup to get these things done. yet when we get in which product on the road in 2021, we have to act like a grown-up.”

How might a grown-up car company be different via a Silicon Valley Johnny-come-lately? One example Fröhlich cited was over-the-air updates for vehicle software. BMW wants to be able to do in which—yet only to upgrade its systems. “Automatic software updates are to improve the product for the customer, such as adding functions or options, not to do patches,” he said. “The vehicle has to be robust before This particular enters the market in order in which we do not need This particular system for fixing bugs.”

Inside BMW’s Effort to Deliver a Self-Driving Machine for 2021

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