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BMW will mass produce a self-driving car by 2021

BMW Self Driving Cars

Tesla and Google aren’t the only companies working towards a future filled with self-driving cars. BMW earlier today boldly announced its plan to begin mass producing a self-driving car by 2021.

As part of its 5-year plan to make autonomous driving a reality, BMW will rely upon camera and sensor technology sourced from Mobileye, the same Israeli company that Tesla currently partners up with for its own self-driving car technology. Also in the mix is Intel who will contribute technology of its own at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

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As USA Today notes, the announcement is significant insofar as this marks the first time that an automaker has attached a specific deadline regarding the production of a self-driving vehicle.

“The statement reflects a bold step for engineers who are still facing significant engineering hurdles in the race to deliver self-driving cars,” the report adds.

“Today marks an important milestone for the automotive industry as we enter a world of new mobility,” Mobileye Co-Founder Amnon Shashua said. “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.”

Of course, the timing of BMW’s announcement comes at an interesting time. Yesterday, word spread that a Florida man was fatally killed when the Tesla Model S he was driving with Autopilot activated crashed into a tractor-trailer. In the wake of the tragic accident, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) indicated that their intention to investigate the role that Tesla’s Autopilot software played, if any, with the crash.

The joint press release announcing the intriguing new partnership between BMW, Intel and Mobileye can be read in part below:

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.

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.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.