BMW and international automotive supplier Continental Partnering on Fully Self Driving Cars by 2025 and Partial Self Driving by 2016

The international automotive supplier Continental, based in Hanover, and the Munich-based BMW Group are pooling their development capacities to define the long-term prerequisites for seriesintroduction of highly automated driving on European freeways. In January 2013, the two companies signed an agreement to jointly develop an electronic co-pilot for this purpose. The overarching aim of the research partnership is to pave the way to highly automated driving functions beyond the year 2020.

Today, more than 1,300 specialists at Continental are already working on the basics of automated driving. They deal specifically with driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control and emergency brake assistance. These make use of sophisticated technology like cameras and infrared and radar systems to record the vehicle environment in various driving situations, thereby alerting, assisting, and relieving the driver. In 2013, Continental is investing more than EUR100 million in R and D.

BMW predicts and plans for vehicle automation is set to be rolled out in stages, starting with partially automated driving from 2016, high levels of automation from 2020 and – ultimately – fully automated systems available from 2025.

Continental expects vehicle automation to deliver improved safety, greater freedom for the driver, and improved vehicle efficiency. More than 1250 specialists are already working on this at the automotive supplier.

I expect self driving cars to have some of the biggest economic impact for artificial intelligence systems. Also, because there are a billion cars now and there will be another billion cars added over the next ten years.

Cars are something that :
* people will spend five thousand to seventy thousand dollars (most popular price range) to buy.
* have a large power source

They are an ideal means to deploy fairly costly a billion artificial intelligence systems.

The Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) RobotCar is a modified Nissan LEAF. Lasers and cameras are subtly mounted around the vehicle and taking up some of the boot space is a computer which performs all the calculations necessary to plan, control speed and avoid obstacles. Externally it’s hard to tell this car apart from any other on the road. It is designed to take over driving while traveling on frequently used routes.

The MRG team sees an immediate future in production cars modified for autonomous driving only part of the time on frequently driven routes. They estimate that the cost of the system can be brought down from its current £5,000 ($7700) to only £100 (US$155).

Google is also a leading force in developing robotic cars.

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