BMW, Intel, Mobileye partnership for self-driving cars adds new player
Automotive and tech companies continue to form new partnerships surrounding self-driving-car development at a feverish pace. The latest came Tuesday, when BMW, Intel, and Mobileye announced that global supplier Delphi Automotive will join their efforts to develop and deploy self-driving vehicles by 2021.
With an eye toward pilot projects later this year, Delphi will serve as the group’s systems integrator for creating an autonomous-driving platform, one that could be utilized not just by BMW but other OEMs interested in building their own highly automated driving systems. “This is not just a platform for BMW,” said Glen DeVos, Delphi’s chief technology officer. “This is a platform for the market, and that’s a truly unique aspect of what’s being done here.”
For Delphi, inclusion in the partnership is the latest ambitious step among several the company has made to pivot toward the industry’s autonomous future. Delphi announced its intentions earlier this month to spin off its powertrain division into a separate company, leaving the remaining entity to focus on advanced connected and autonomous driving ventures. Over the past five months, Delphi has been busy acquiring, investing in, and partnering with a laundry list of other companies to enhance connected-car services, which the company’s executives view as a lucrative new revenue stream.
If the intermingling of the players involved in Tuesday’s announcement sounds familiar, that’s because they’re already working with one another on a variety of separate autonomous-vehicle project permutations. BMW, Intel, and Mobileye first teamed up last summer; then, in the fall, Delphi and Mobileye formed a separate partnership aimed at developing an autonomous-driving platform for the commercial-vehicle market, a partnership for which Intel supplies chips.
This past February, BMW announced another deal that revolves around data from Mobileye’s computer-vision technology, and in March, Intel said it intends to acquire Mobileye for $15.3 billion, the most expensive acquisition to date in the fledgling autonomous-vehicle industry. Given their prior relationships, the companies said Tuesday it makes sense to make Delphi their first integration partner and to further conjoin their fortunes.
“We realized that our approaches are very similar, and could be aligned on the hardware side and a good part of the software stack,” said Richard Rau, BMW’s vice president of sensor, control units, and software.
Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed, but all the companies emphasized Tuesday that this is not an exclusive agreement. Other integration and development partners will be added by BMW, Intel, and Mobileye. Rau says the company already is involved in “very deep discussions” with OEMs that may be interested in joining the alliance within a matter of weeks.
The platform under development aims to support driving in vehicles equipped with Levels 3, 4, and 5 automation. At Level 3, systems can handle many driving tasks but require monitoring from humans capable of retaking control if needed. At Level 5, fully self-driving technology is capable of handling all driving in all conditions.
“It will comprise basically all you need to implement autonomous functionality in a specific OEM car,” Rau said. “It is up to the OEM, like Delphi, to integrate it into their cars and tailor it to their specific needs.”