BMW is the latest automaker to confirm plans to go to market with an autonomous vehicle, the Bavarian maker teaming up with tech partners Intel and Mobileye to “bring fully automated driving technology to the street” by 2021, the maker’s CEO announced Friday.
The announcement follows the debut of several futuristic concept vehicles meant to mark BMW’s 100th anniversary. But it also comes a day after U.S. safety regulators launched an investigation into a fatal crash of a Tesla Model S sedan that was operating in its semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. That has raised new concerns about the technology despite hopes that self-driving vehicles will help improve safety and reduce worsening traffic congestion.
“The combined expertise of Intel, Mobileye and the BMW Group will deliver the next core building block to bring fully automated driving technology to the street,” BMW chairman Harald Krüger said in a statement.
The move might come as a surprise to those who think of BMW in terms of its long-running tag-line, “The ultimate driving machine,” but the maker has been exploring self-driving technology for nearly two decades, and, according to Kruger, it will give BMW customers new options – the ability to ride hands-free or switch to manual driving mode.