2017 is about to become overwhelmed with self-driving cars. Today, BMW, Intel, and Mobileye announced their intention to deploy 40 autonomous vehicles for testing on public roads in the second half of 2017. The cars — BMW 7 series equipped with Intel and Mobileye technology — will be on the roads in both the US and Europe for public trials, the companies say.
Six months ago, BMW first announced its intention to partner with Intel, which will supply processing power, and Mobileye, the Israeli supplier of driver-assistance systems and sensors that supplies a large percentage of the auto industry. At that time, the German automaker said it hoped to have autonomous vehicles available for purchase by 2021. Today’s announcement is that those vehicles will begin testing later this year.
But BMW and its partners aren’t looking to just build self-driving 7 series sedans. The companies say they want to develop “scalable architecture” that can be adopted by other automakers and designers to plug into vehicles of different brands.
All three companies are also pursuing their own self-driving projects independent of one another. BMW has said it will launch a flagship electric, self-driving model that it calls its "innovation driver" — the i NEXT — in 2021. Late last year, Intel vowed to spend $250 million over the next two years toward the development of autonomous vehicles. And previously, Mobileye said it was teaming up with Delphi, a leading auto supplier, to develop a near-complete autonomous driving system by 2019. The plan is to create a mass-market, off-the-shelf system that can be plugged into a variety of vehicle types, from smaller cars to SUVs.
BMW, Intel, and Mobileye aren’t the only ones who will be testing self-driving cars this year. Since September, Uber has been offer rides in its autonomous vehicles to the public in Pittsburgh and briefly San Francisco, before running afoul of the state’s DMV. Ford, GM, and a variety of tech startups have been testing their own cars as well. And Tesla has said that all its new vehicles will come equipped with fully autonomous hardware — but won’t be activated until accruing millions more miles of test driving.