Just of nine months ago, Mobileye landed a deal with BMW to assist in developing Autonomous technology or future BMW cars. Just weeks later, Tesla and Mobileye cut the cord on their partnership. But, all is good in the world of autonomy as Tesla has soldiered on and BMW now claims that it will deliver Level 5 autonomy – in other words, a fully autonomous car – by 2021. Word was given to a panel discussion in Berlin by Elmar Frickenstein, BMW’s Senior Vice President of Autonomous Driving.
“We are on the way to deliver a car in 2021 with Level 3, 4, and Level 5 Autonomy.” But, he also went on to explain that the vehicle, which has yet to be announced, will have different levels of autonomy depending on where it is used. So, much like Tesla’s autopilot, it could offer full autonomous drive on the highway while still requiring human intervention within city areas or areas that haven’t been adequately mapped.
As things sit right now, Level 3 Autonomy still requires a human driver in place in case intervention is needed, but it’s theoretically hands-off when in operation. Level 4 will still require a human inside the vehicle at most times but will be hands-off and mind-off, meaning a car ride will be more about leisure or work than anything. Finally, Level 5 won’t require any human at all and is the endgame for autonomous technology as we know it now. Cars will be able to drive and function all on their own, which means the car can drop you off at work and return home to the wife. Or, it could take the kids to school on Friday while you enjoy sleeping in on your day off. It’s undoubtedly the future of cars at this point, and right now automakers are locked in a race to see who can get there first.
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Why it Matters
Considering 2021 is just four years away, a statement that promises at least some Level 5 autonomy is pretty bold, but with Mobileye and BMW working together, it’s a feasible possibility. After all, Mobileye once played a big part in Tesla ’s AutoPilot system, so it’s got the credentials, while BMW has been bringing new tech into cars at astounding levels.
The question right now is: What BMW vehicle will be the first to get this Level 5 autonomy? If history tells us anything it will likely be something higher up in the range like the 7 Series or maybe even the i8, but who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise us and bring the technology to something more affordable for the masses. But, will Tesla, Mercedes and it’s EQ brand, or another automaker make it to Level 5 first? Only time will tell, but let us know what you think or predict in the comments section below.