Development of the BMW iNext autonomous car looks set to benefit from a new business deal in which BMW technology partner Intel will purchase Israeli driverless car technology company Mobileye.
The acquisition is worth about £12 billion and will enable the two brands to combine their driverless software and hardware know-how, speeding up the rate of development of the autonomous vehicle systems that will end up in the iNext, which is due in 2021.
The electric car is planned to offer level three (eyes off) autonomy, with level five (driver off) autonomy a possibility. The new Intel deal could be pivotal in fast-tracking level five full autonomy into the model from its launch.
Intel said: “The acquisition will couple the best-in-class technologies from both companies, including Intel’s high-performance computing and connectivity expertise and Mobileye’s leading computer vision expertise to create automated driving solutions from the cloud through the network to the car.
“The combination is expected to accelerate innovation for the automotive industry and position Intel as a leading technology provider in the fast-growing market for highly and fully autonomous vehicles.”
Intel expects the vehicle systems, data and services market to be worth more than £55bn by 2030. It said purchasing Mobileye comes as part of its strategy to invest in data-intensive market opportunities that “build on the company’s strengths in computing and connectivity from the cloud, through the network, to the device”.
BMW’s collaboration with Intel and Mobileye began last July and was strengthened in December when it opened a new development centre for autonomous vehicles near Munich. The companies will move testing onto public roads this year, when a fleet of autonomous 7 Series will be driven in Europe and the US.