Arch rivals BMW and Daimler have come together to put fully autonomous cars on the autobahn in the next five years. The two German behemoths have signed an agreement for a long-term strategic cooperation, focusing on joint development of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and automated parking, all to SAE Level 4 autonomy. This partnership intends to eventually extend its scope to higher levels of automation in urban areas and city centres as well.

To make this happen within the stipulated time frame, the two automakers will bring together over 1,200 development specialists based at locations including the BMW Group Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleissheim, near Munich, the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre in Sindelfingen and the Daimler Testing and Technology Centre in Immendingen. However, while they will jointly focus on developing a scalable architecture for driver assistance systems, including sensors, as well as a joint data centre for data storage, administration and processing, and the development of functions and software, the two companies will each implement the technologies in their respective series products independently.

Also, in a white paper published on July 2 along with Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, Continental, Fiat Chrysler, HERE, Infineon, Intel and Volkswagen, the BMW Group and Daimler have stressed on the implementation of all relevant safety methods for Level 3/4 SAE automated driving, with the primary goal being “safer than the average driver”.

Market launch of these technologies in series vehicles is scheduled for 2024.