The drive toward full autonomy in cars continues on its relentless march, but setbacks continue to plague the new technology.
Google was among the first to publicly test self-driving cars and has logged millions of mostly trouble-free miles. Tesla is also proving the technology, though not without occasional tragedy.
Automakers around the world are also going all-in on the self-driving craze. Ford has promised full autonomy by 2021, as have Tesla, Audi, and more.
BMW just announced its intent to join that list, while Uber has abruptly halted its autonomous testing after a crash in Arizona.
Will we see full autonomy in just four short years?
Self-driving technology has a long way to go before it’ll be fully integrated into everyday driving. One of the hardest parts is figuring out how to make the autonomous car respond when other drivers fail to follow the rules of the road. In the Uber accident, a driverless Volvo XC90 flipped over onto its side after another car failed to yield at a left turn. No injuries were reported as a result of the accident, but it’s another setback to autonomy.
With Uber out, for now, BMW is jumping in with both feet.
The German automaker expects to produce and sell a fully-autonomous vehicle by 2021.
Speaking with BMW’s senior vice president for the brand’s autonomous driving division, Elmar Fickenstein, Automotive News says a new BMW will arrive with “Level 3, 4 and 5” stage autonomy.
A Level 5 vehicle is capable of navigating roads without any driver input, while Levels 3 and 4 still require a driver who can take over if the car encounters a problem.
The new BMW will probably be the iNEXT electric car, which is due out in 2021. That car, if all goes according to plan, will have the ability to use different levels of autonomy depending on how and where it is used.
BMW recently teamed up with Intel and Mobileye to help develop the new computers to run BMW’s autonomous driving systems. BMW engineers will focus more on developing the handling dynamics and safety systems.
Technology is advancing at lightning speed, but I’m not sure if the willingness of consumers to trust their lives to a machine is advancing as fast.
Automakers are spending billions to speed up the development of self-driving cars, but do you even want the technology in your next car?