The future of mobility is autonomy. That’s for sure!!! In the near future, you expect that we would have been able to see level 5 autonomous cars by BMW & Daimler or cars that can operate completely unaided by human drivers as well as be able to operate in virtually every condition both on the highway and within traffic cramped cities.
1. The current state of autonomous car technologies
The frenzy for the design of autonomous cars has led to increased research and development targeted at this goal. Several automakers have succeeded in buildings cars that operate at some levels of driving autonomy.
Most cars currently operate at Level 1 autonomy with safety features like adaptive cruise control, active parking assist, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, Lane keeping assist etc. However, some car manufacturers have achieved higher level of autonomy in modern cars, Mercedes Benz has achieved SAE level 2 autonomy with their Intelligent Drive system which means that their cars can respond automatically in some predefined conditions and situations, implying “partial Automation”.
With Level 2 autonomy in the bag, Mercedes Benz has set sight on achieving level 3 and 4 autonomy. The company sees the process as mountain climbing with level 5 being the ultimate target. Before getting to the summit, the hurdle of level 3 and 4 has to be scaled, and that will involve consideration work. To beat this challenge and scale the hurdles, Mercedes Benz believes a solid partnership will fundamental to fast tracking progress in this field and ultimately achieving complete autonomy.
Mercedes Benz and BMW signed a Memorandum of Understanding MoU
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2. BMW and Mercedes-Benz co-operate to develop high-level autonomous cars
Early this year, Mercedes Benz and BMW signed a Memorandum of Understanding MoU to integrate their efforts towards achieving SAE Level 3 and 4 level autonomy in cars manufactured by them. SAE defines Level 4 autonomy as that level where your car operates independently. However, the driver might still have to step in if required. Also cars operating at this level will functions under limited conditions.
According to Mercedes, the crucial objective of the strategic cooperation and long term partnership is to help in developing a system that will make scaling of automated driving possible and sustainable.
Speaking with respect to the MoU, Mr. Klaus Frohlich, who is a member of BMW board stated:
“As we continue to pursue our strategy, we are combining the expertise of two technology leaders. At the BMW Group, long-term partnerships within a flexible, scalable, non-exclusive platform are fundamental to advancing the industrialization of autonomous driving. Combining the key expertise of our two companies will boost our innovative strength and speed up the spread of this technology”
BMW and Daimler aims to produce Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous cars
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On the part of Daimler AG, the current CEO Mr. Ola Kallenius reiterated his company’s position in his comment:
"Autonomous driving is one of the most revolutionary trends for us at the moment, and the entire Daimler Group is working very hard on it. As always at Daimler, our top priority is safety. Instead of individual, stand-alone solutions, we want to develop a reliable overall system that offers noticeable added-value for customers. Working with the right partners, we want to make significant advances in enhancing the performance of this technology and bring it safely on the road."
The financial investments required to build requisite technology to power the era of autonomy is huge and might stretch the resources on one firm if they were to singularly finance these effort. So this partnership offers both firms an opportunity to share cost. Both firms will also be able to utilize and harness the expertise of either company’s exceptional engineers and research effort towards achieving level 4 autonomy in future cars without compromising safety and reliability.
However, it is worthy to note that the partnership is not a merger or will it lead to a merger. It is a synergy that is only to help build a scalable platform that will bring optimal benefits to the teeming customers of both mega brands. Both firms have over the years built capacity in this field. For instance BMW has been pursuing vehicle autonomy since 2006 and these effort will culminate in the expected infusion of level 3 autonomy in BMW’s iNEXT in 2021. Mercedes on their part have continuously invested in this field and they expect to launch their first pilot program on Level 4 and 5 autonomous vehicles in urban environment later this year.
>>> Both BMW and Daimler have experiences in this field: Mercedes-Benz launches autonomous self-driving bus
Hope the efforts between two companies will soon bring great results
This is one solid partnership and we expect to see many more similar deals being struck by various other firms or even more partners joining the current BMW-Daimler partnership.