Continental joins BMW partnership as Germany pushes forward with autonomy

20 June 2017

20 June 2017 The joint venture in autonomous driving by BMW, Mobileye and Intel has gained another partner in German automotive parts and tyre company Continental. As the development of the technology continues at a pace, manufacturers are finding themselves in needs of an alliance with technology companies to ensure they can keep up with the demand required to meet launch targets. The BMW venture will see Continental play a role in the commercialisation of the platform, which will be sold to other vehicle manufacturers. Frank Jourdan, member of the Executive Board of Continental AG and head of the Chassis & Safety division, comments: ′We have already had very good experience in working with the BMW Group through jointly successfully completed development and series projects. Contributing development and integration for the partnership is a recognition of our extensive competence in the field of automated driving. The cooperation with the core partners involved represents the unique opportunity to drive ahead and get this technology of the future to our roads more quickly.’ Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Klaus Fröhlich, member of the board of management of BMW AG for development, adds: ′Every new Tier One partner brings us a step closer to our goal: We intend to bring safe autonomous driving to series production by 2021 and actively shape this technology. With our non-exclusive approach to this technology of the future we will deliver a safe, fast and cost-efficient solution that is highly attractive also for other manufacturers.’ The group added Delphi to the partnership in May 2017, while Mobileye was bought by Intel earlier in 2017, the technology giant seeing the need to integrate the autonomous specialist into its ranks. In the current set-up, Intel will build chips for vehicle computers, with Mobileye providing sensors and Delphi creating the platforms that can integrate the technology into vehicles. The intended aim is not just to allow seamless integration, but to also bring the price of such systems down by making them easy to build and fit into vehicles with less effort, unlike current systems which are bulky and unsightly. Further developments in Germany have seen automotive supplier Bosch announce plans to build a new wafer fabrication plant in Dresden. To satisfy the demand generated by the growing number of internet of things (IoT) and mobility applications, the new location is to manufacture chips on the basis of 12-inch wafers. Construction of the high-tech plant is to be completed by the end of 2019. Following a rollout phase, manufacturing operations will likely start at the end of 2021. Total investment in the location will come to roughly €1 billion. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management at Bosch, comments: ′The new wafer fab is the biggest single investment in Bosch’s more than 130-year history. Semiconductors are the core components of all electronic systems. With connectivity and automation growing, they are being used in more and more areas of application. By extending our semiconductor manufacturing capacity, we are giving ourselves a sound basis for the future and strengthening our competitiveness.’ Meanwhile experts in Germany are due to present guidelines for autonomous car trials on German roads. Federal Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt has appointed a commission to address what such systems are allowed and not allowed to do when it comes to usage on public roads. The panel has set up 20 rules, and states: ′The protection of people takes precedence over all other considerations of usefulness’. In the event of accidents caused by vehicles, damage to property must take precedence over personal injury. Further, it recommends: ′In case of inevitable accidents, any qualification according to personal characteristics (age, sex, physical or mental constitution) is strictly prohibited.’ The experts also warn against a total monitoring of the traffic. Vehicle owners and users would have to be able to ′decide in principle about the transfer and use of their vehicle data’. The Commission also sees the risk of manipulation of the vehicle control system.

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