Intel announced Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show that it's partnering with BMW Group and Mobileye to create and set loose a fleet of roughly 40 autonomous test cars on roads starting this year.
The companies will be modifying BMW 7-Series sedans with their jointly-developed autonomous driving technology, enabling the cars to be tested across Europe and the United States. The self-driving tech kits to be used on these cars were engineered by the three companies to have a "scalable architecture," which will allow the tech to easily be fitted to cars from other manufacturers.
"This year our fleet of vehicles will already test this joint technology globally under real traffic conditions," said BMW Development Board Member Klaus Fröhlich. "This is a significant step towards the introduction of the BMW iNEXT in 2021, which will be the BMW Group’s first fully autonomous vehicle."
Each of the three companies have their own specific roles in this autonomous tech collaboration. BMW took control of engineering the driving dynamics, safety, building prototypes, and will also be working to get the product out to other test partners when the time comes. Intel worked on the computer processing for the hardware, and Mobileye engineered the hardware that shows the car what's on the road around it.
What we're looking at here is not only the cement being poured for BMW's own autonomous plans, but also potentially a product that could be widely implemented by other automakers—who, presumably, would pay BMW, Mobileye, and Intel for the privilege.
The announcement also included a sneak peek into the future model lineup of the Bavarian Motor Works. The press release stated that after the BMW iNEXT is introduced in 2021, a whole range of "highly automated" cars from BMW Group will arrive.