BMW and Daimler put joint auto-driving R&D on hold

BMW and Daimler put joint auto-driving R&D on hold

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

In a joint press release, BMW and Daimler (Mercedes Benz) announce that they have ended their joint activities to develop an electronic and software platform for autonomous driving before they actually begun. But this is not supposed to be a funeral – they decided by “best mutual agreement” to let the cooperation rest “for now”. At a later point in time, the companies emphasised that it would be possible to resume joint developments.

So what is the reason for ending such a young project so quickly? The companies are not giving very specific details, but it seems that there were frictional losses in the consolidation of the technical concepts. As is known, BMW is currently developing a hardware and software platform for automatic vehicle control in partnership with Intel, Mobileye and Fiat Chrysler (FCA). “Our current technology generation has very large and sustainable potential: With an extremely powerful sensor system and computing power, we have a very robust construction kit”, explained BMW top technology manager Klaus Fröhlich. Daimler, on the other hand, is working with Bosch on the same goal and has achieved some notable progress such as automated valet parking.

However, according to a BMW spokesperson, the cooperation, which is now based on Hold, did not relate to these platforms anyway. “This technology is aimed at the first generation of automated vehicles,” said the spokesman. “Our cooperation was further directed towards the future; the known platforms are not affected by this at all”.

The frictional losses were instead caused by the merging of the two technology paths into one common denominator, spokesmen of Daimler and BMW explained in unison. “We have found that harmonizing two development departments costs speed,” a Daimler spokeswoman said.

Now each of the two premium OEMs will first of all pursue its own development path again, the two companies said. The cooperation in other areas is continuing, for example with the digital high-resolution map provider Here, which Daimler and BMW acquired together with Audi five years ago and which is to produce the infrastructure and map data for autonomous driving.

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