The Daimler & BMW Alliance Seeks to Standardize Technology for Self-Driving Cars
Last week, German automakers Daimler and BMW announced an alliance to work together on the development of self-driving technology. The goal of the alliance is to speed up development and lower the investment costs of autonomous driving technology to benefit both automakers.
Now the two automakers are pushing for regulations to standardize autonomous driving technologies, for when these vehicles are commercially deployed.
Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show today, Klaus Froehlich, BMW's board member responsible for development, said there should be an industry standard that can help to shape future regulation for self-driving cars.
"It is a chicken and egg situation. Somebody has to standardize the technology and regulation will follow," Froehlich said.
Part of the reason to develop a set of standards may be to shield automakers from liability.
Right now, a driver involved in an accident is covered by insurance and if found to be at fault, will likely see higher insurance premiums or a traffic ticket. However, for a driverless car that's involved in an accident, the liability will likely fall on the manufacturer, in this case it's the automakers that are deploying these self-driving vehicles, not necessarily the companies supplying the hardware.
BMW and Daimler will form committees to pick potential suppliers of advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving technology in the coming four months, executives said.
BMW is also pressuring the auto industry to clarify technological standards so that regulators can draw up rules. These regulations can also be extended to Tier 1 suppliers.
For example, should a forward facing camera in a autonomous shuttle have a minimum resolution requirement, or should lidar components be required to have a minimum range of 300 meters? These are important details for companies developing autonomous vehicles.
These rules would apply to future level 3 and 4 autonomous vehicles, so they would not have to be rewritten as the technology advances with vehicles that require no human intervention.
"We should not invent this complicated wheel twice. On the path to setting these standards, it makes sense to share some of these investments," Daimler board member Ola Kaellenius said.
"It is to push technology forward and to set standards already in generation two vehicles, and not just in generation four. We do not want to waste resources," Froehlich said to explain the collaboration between the German automakers.
Kaellenius said that the alliance between BMW and Daimler would develop next generation advanced driver assistance systems for compact and larger cars. The automakers seek to have regulations in place at the earlier stages, to make it easier for other automakers to collaborate in future partnerships.
Froehlich added that Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is already a partner with BMW and wants it to continue. FCA Executive Mike Manley said that he would welcome an opportunity to continue collaborating with BMW on its next generation autonomous driving technology.
Having standardized technology requirements might make any autonomous vehicle partnerships in the automotive industry less costly and more productive.
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