BMW, Intel, and Mobileye are working together to develop self-driving tech as a platform.
Photograph courtesy of BMW

The Israeli sensor company is fast rolling out its autonomous driving technology

By Geoffrey Smith
February 21, 2017

Mobileye, the Israel-based sensor company, has announced another deal with a major automaker to roll out its flagship technology for autonomous driving.

The deal will put Mobileye’s flagship localization and mapping technologies in BMW Group cars (that includes the British marques Mini and Rolls-Royce) from next year. It essentially extends the same deal that Mobileye struck last week with Volkswagen, the world’s largest carmaker by sales.

Mobileye’s shares rose over 2% in reaction to the news. The VW deal last week had sent them up 8%.

The deal is further proof of the company’s ability to defend its lead in automated driver assistance systems (ADAS,) one of the hottest topics in the sector by virtue of the race among the world’s biggest automakers to get fully-autonomous cars on the roads.

That advantage – Reuters estimated last year that Mobileye had 70% of the market for ADAS technology – is important because carmakers want to be sure that the technology they adopt is the industry standard (so far, none exists). Mobileye’s key strength is its ability to compress the large volume of data its cameras gather into small packets of 10 Kilobytes per kilometer, allowing them to operate well within the constraints of today’s wireless data networks.

BMW’s cars currently have roughly the same kind of limited driver assistance (Level 2 Autonomy on the internationally-used scale) as carmakers like Tesla. Like Ford, BMW aims to have a vehicle that is to all practical purposes self-driving (Level 4) on the roads by 2021. It announced last month that it will test a fleet of around 40 autonomous 7-Series cars on roads in Europe and the U.S. later this year, under a partnership with Mobileye and Intel.

The deal is also notable for the fact that it incorporates another one of BMW’s high-profile investments — the mapping service HERE that BMW and other German carmakers teamed up to buy from Nokia last year. Under the deal, the data collected by Mobileye’s cameras and chips will be processed by HERE to create real-time updates on traffic density, road hazards, weather conditions and so on.

“This announcement makes it clear how our cooperation with Mobileye leverages our investment stake in HERE,” BMW management board member Klaus Fröhlich said. “The data of future BMW vehicles will enrich the quality of maps and services for everyone.”

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