Daimler AG And BMW Group To Develop Automated Vehicles

BMW Group and Daimler AG have signed an agreement to develop autonomous driving technologies. The representative of the two companies planned a collaboration earlier this year and now an official agreement for long-term strategic cooperation has been signed.

Initially, the aim would be to co-develop technologies for driver assistance systems, highly automated driving on highways and automated parking. Additional discussions are planned to extend the cooperation to higher levels of automation in urban areas and city centres. The market launch in series vehicles out of this co-development is scheduled for 2024, with the partners implementing technologies independently in their respective series vehicles.

The two companies will each implement the technologies in their respective series products independently. The cooperation will see more than 1200 specialists working together, often in mixed teams. They will be based at locations including the BMW Group Autonomous Driving Campus in Unterschleissheim, near Munich, the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre (MTC) in Sindelfingen and the Daimler Testing and Technology Centre in Immendingen.

Along with Aptiv, Audi, Baidu, Continental, Fiat Chrysler, HERE, Infineon, Intel and Volkswagen, the BMW Group and Daimler have published a white paper entitled Safety First for Automated Driving. As well as covering all relevant safety methods for Level 3/4 SAE automated driving, the paper introduces a traceability system, which extends from the primary goal – being safer than the average driver – right down to the individual safety objectives of the various components. The paper was published on 2 July 2019.

Will German Manufacturers And Suppliers Ally Over Autonomous Cars?

Leading German car manufacturers could join forces to advance together in the race for autonomous cars, according to German media reports.

Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, as well as suppliers Bosch and Continental are “evaluating” the possibility of an alliance to develop autonomous mobility, according to the German weekly Manager Magazin.

Earlier, the daily Handelsblatt had already held discussions between Daimler and BMW, while Bloomberg had reported preliminary talks between these two manufacturers in late 2018.

BMW, which already cooperates with Fiat and Intel, told AFP that “other companies are interested in a collaboration” around its “non-exclusive” platform for autonomous driving.

“Strategic partnerships and a large network of research and development are key success factors” because of the “substantial investment” necessary for the development of the autonomous car, explained a Volkswagen spokesman. Thus, the group “considers several projects in common with other companies in all regions of the world,” he added, refusing – like his counterpart at BMW – to specifically comment on the different press information.

Daimler, Continental and Bosch had no comment.

Last week, Volkswagen and Ford announced an alliance on vans and pickups to significantly reduce their production costs, while looking ahead to continuing discussions on a partnership in the field of electric and autonomous vehicles and mobility services.

According to Manager Magazin, the discussions between Volkswagen and Ford have not resulted in a wider agreement because the boss of VW, Herbert Diess, would prefer an alliance between German companies.

These discussions come at a time when the automotive industry is racing to develop these expensive technologies that are supposed to define the modes of transport of tomorrow.

The uncertainty and the sums involved encourage alliances: for example, Honda has recently invested in General Motors’ “Cruise” subsidiary, which is focused on autonomous technologies.

Car Manufacturer Use of the Word ‘Autonomous’ Dangerous: Thatcham Research

Thatcham Research and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued an urgent call to car manufacturers and legislators for greater clarity around the capability of vehicles sold with technology that does more and more driving on behalf of motorists. The call comes in the wake of growing reports of people crashing while over-relying on technology which is not yet designed to drive the car independently.

The risks to drivers have been outlined in the new ‘Assisted and Automated Driving Definition and Assessment’ paper, which has identified dangerous grey areas associated with some driver support technologies. These include misleading names, like Autopilot and ProPilot, given to systems by car manufacturers, how and when drivers should take back control of their vehicles and systems which are designed to work in specific situations only (e.g. on motorways) but can also function anywhere.

Matthew Avery, Head of Research at Thatcham Research said, “We are starting to see real-life examples of the hazardous situations that occur when motorists expect the car to drive and function on its own. Specifically, where the technology is taking ownership of more and more of the driving task, but the motorist may not be sufficiently aware that they are still required to take back control in problematic circumstances. Fully Automated vehicles that can own the driving task from A to B, with no need for driver involvement whatsoever, won’t be available for many years to come. Until then, drivers remain criminally liable for the safe use of their cars and as such, the capability of current road vehicle technologies must not be oversold.”

Avery continues, “It begins with how systems are named and described across car manufacturer marketing materials and the driver’s handbook. Names like Autopilot or ProPilot are deeply unhelpful, as they infer the car can do a lot more than it can. Absolute clarity is needed, to help drivers understand the when and how these technologies are designed to work and that they should always remain engaged in the driving task.”

James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy at the ABI, said, “Insurers are major supporters of efforts to get assisted and autonomous vehicles onto the UK’s roads. Given the part human error plays in the overwhelming majority of accidents, these technologies have the potential to dramatically improve road safety. However, we are a long way from fully autonomous cars which will be able to look after all parts of a journey and in the meantime, it remains crucial that all drivers are alert and ready to take back full control at a moment’s notice. Manufacturers must be responsible in how they describe and name what their vehicles can do, and the insurance industry is ready to hold them to account on this.”

PPG Partners With Uni Of Michigan’s Mcity For Autonomous Vehicle Research

PPG announced its partnership with the University of Michigan’s (U-M’s) Mcity, a public-private partnership that brings together industry, government and academia to improve transportation safety, sustainability and accessibility for the benefit of the society. Mcity’s work includes operating the Mcity Test Facility, which is the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for testing autonomous vehicles, connected-vehicle systems and related technologies. PPG is the first paints and coatings manufacturer to join the Mcity partnership.

PPG is developing a broad portfolio of coatings to improve functionality and enable broad deployment of autonomous vehicles. These developments include exterior coatings that enhance vehicle visibility to radar and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, as well as easy-to-clean coatings that help prevent obstruction of autonomous vehicle sensors. PPG highlighted these technologies at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at Cobo Center in Detroit.

The Mcity Test Facility, which opened in 2015, was developed by U-M with support from the Michigan Department of Transportation. The facility aims to re-create a range of operating challenges faced by vehicles on the road with simulated urban and suburban environments. Sitting on a 128,000-square metre site on U-M’s North Campus, the facility offers more than 64,000-square metres of roads and traffic infrastructure, including approximately eight lane-kilometres of roads with intersections, traffic signals, street lighting, sidewalks, fire hydrants, simulated buildings and obstacles like construction barriers and pedestrian crash dummies. In addition to operating the test facility, Mcity also funds academic research and works with its partners to deploy connected and automated vehicles in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan.

“Autonomous vehicle technology offers numerous real-world advantages, and the ability to test such technologies safely and thoroughly is essential for proving the viability of advanced mobility solutions,” said Huei Peng, director, Mcity. “Our state-of-the-art facility offers a controlled environment for manufacturers like PPG to develop and hone the capabilities of autonomous vehicles and related technologies, while also providing them access to a variety of valuable tools and resources. We’re excited to have PPG be part of this journey.”

Added Gary Danowski, PPG vice president, Automotive OEM Coatings, “Specialized coatings will play an integral role in the development of safe and reliable driverless vehicles. We are enthusiastic about this partnership and are always actively seeking additional R&D partners as we continue to explore new possibilities in emerging vehicle technologies.”

The agreement provides PPG with access to resources such as Mcity lab and project data; research and deployment assets; an independent forum of suppliers, manufacturers and end users; university expertise related to legal, regulatory and social issues; and Mcity research review meetings and the annual Mcity Congress.