Intel convinces BMW to play nice with Fiat over autonomous driving

Fiat has been announced as the latest player to join Intel’s autonomous driving crew, which has the ambitions of putting fully automated vehicles into production by 2021.

The supergroup was first announced in July 2016, featuring Intel, Mobileye and BMW, but has now been expanded to include the Italian brand. It would appear to be a move to expand the geographical footprint of the group, which is aiming to develop a globally accepted platform, as the Fiat-Chrysler group has a long-time presence in North America.

“In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers,” said FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne. “Joining this cooperation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective.”

Aside from a bigger geographical footprint, the inclusion of FCA makes sense considering the ambitions of the group. Since the launch, the trio have been designing and developing what is described as a scalable architecture which can be used by multiple automakers around the world, while at the same time maintaining each automaker’s unique brand identities. Having only one car manufacturer in the mix would prove difficult to achieve a ‘white-labelled’ solution, suitable for multiple brands.

FCA at least provides a bit of variation, even if it is not that much, though it should be noted the group has extended the invitation to others in the field. Whether hardcore competitors are able to put aside their differences remains to be seen. Such collaborations are common in the technology industry, where standards rule the roost, but not so much in the consumer world.

“The two factors that remain key to the success of the cooperation are uncompromising excellence in development, and the scalability of our autonomous driving platform,” said Harald Krüger, Chairman of the board of management of BMW. “With FCA as our new partner, we reinforce our path to successfully create the most relevant state-of-the-art, cross-OEM Level 3-5 solution on a global scale.”

In terms of progress, the team has been making steady, while not colossal, steps forward. It has stated progress is on-track to deploy 40 autonomous test vehicles on the road by the end of 2017, while Mobileye has also recently announced the deployment of a fleet of 100 Level Four autonomous vehicles, starting at the end of the year.

This is an interesting little project, as the objective is to rack up the road-miles in differentiated environments, including the US, Europe and Israel. Considering the amount of data which will be needed to ensure the success of autonomous vehicles, the more miles under the belt the better. Intel and Mobileye do seem to be making bigger waves week on week in this space.

While the car manufacturers might not have the same experience of playing nice as those in the tech space, the promise of some pretty nifty technology might be enough to tempt them into the budding brobang.

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