10 Jul 18

BMW joins Baidu to develop autonomous driving in China

BMW has agreed to join the board of Apollo, the autonomous-driving platform run by Chinese tech giant Baidu. Both companies will work to bring 'safe, convenient and intelligent mobility' to China's consumers.  

The deal, hot on the heels of a recent collaboration between both companies on connected vehicles, was signed by China's prime minister Li Keqiang and Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel during the former's visit to Germany. It marks the beginning of a new, and possibly very significant partnership in the development of autonomous mobility. 

Long history
It's not the first collaboration between both companies in this area, says Ya-Qin Zhang, president of Baidu: “BMW Group and Baidu have a long history of working together on autonomous driving tech”.

“We are well aligned in our vision for the future of autonomous driving (…) Our aim is to accelerate the development of autonomous-driving technologies that align with the Chinese market”. 

Consistent standards
However, for BMW, the cooperation is more a matter of achieving globally consistent tech standards, said Klaus Fröhlich, BMW Board Member for development: “(Such) standards (will) overcome today's regional discrepancy regarding speed of implementation and regulatory framework”. 

“With BMW Group and Baidu joining forces, we can significantly accelerate the alignment of specific requirements and technological approaches to turn the vision of autonomous driving into reality for Chinese customers very soon”. 

Level 5 autonomy
BMW is currently developing an autonomous-driving platform for Level 3 to Level 4/5 autonomy, as well as for advanced driving assistance systems (Level 2). This scalable solution is being developed with tech and OEM partners, all contributing knowledge, resources and intellectual property. 

Apollo is an open platform providing a comprehensive, secure and reliable solution that can help members of the autonomous driving industry quickly build their own complete autonomous vehicle systems. Since its launch in July 2017, Apollo has brought together 118 global partners in the auto and tech industries. 
One of them is Mobileye, the Israeli subsidiary of Intel developing vision-based collision prevention systems. Baidu has announced that it will integrate and deploy Mobileye's Responsibility Sensitive Safety (RSS) model, both in its open-source Apollo platform and in the commercial Apollo Pilot programme. 

Baidu will also adopt Mobileye's Surround Computer Vision (SCV) Kit as the visual perception solution, to be integrated into Baidu's proposition to the Chinese OEM market. 

RSS provides safety assurance of autonomous-vehicle decision-making by formalising common-sense, human-centred concepts of safe driving, such as: always maintain a safe following distance and right-of-way is given but not taken. The adoption of RSS by Baidu is a significant strategic success for Mobileye. 

Authored by: Frank Jacobs