BMW has announced its plans to test self-driving cars on the streets of Munich, the Bavarian capital and BMW’s hometown. A fleet of 40 vehicles will be utilized to test BMW’s self-driving technology, before putting it to work in ride-hailing services. The cars will travel at speeds of up to 70 kph, which translates into 43.5 mph. In comparison, Google’s self-driving cars have a speed limit of 25 mph. BMW hopes to gather information on how robot cars interact with traffic, pedestrians and other obstacles, and that this information will improve the vehicles’ reaction to unpredictable traffic situations.
This effort is embedded into a strategy to make BMW a leader in autonomous car technology: The Bavarian car maker plans to start selling its first autonomous car, the iNEXT, in 2021. In order to achieve this goal, BMW will open a new R&D center devoted exclusively to connected mobility and autonomous cars in Unterschleißheim, a suburb of Munich, which will add 1,400 people to BMW’s workforce in this field of, thus far, 600. This new center represents the latest entry to a list of projects with regards to connected mobility supported by the Bavarian government, which includes the Connected Mobility Lab (a joint effort with BMW and Siemens), the TUM Living Lab Connected Mobility (run by the Technical University of Munich, one of the world’s top science universities), and research being conducted by the Fraunhofer institutes (Europe’s largest private R&D network).
Furthermore, BMW and IBM announced a corporation aimed at developing in-car AI and IoT services with IBM’s Watson. The deal will see Watson sensors and computing integrated into BMWs on one hand. On the other, IBM will hack four BMW i8 sports cars to run on IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform, in order to find ways to build better vehicle operating systems.
The deal is one of the many fruits IBM’s expansion to Munich has born. Earlier on this year, the American corporation opened its global Watson IoT headquarters in Munich – a 1,000 employee effort.
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