back to article BMW chief: Big auto will stay in the driving seat with autonomous cars

One of BMW's board members threw down the driving glove at the tech industry yesterday, saying that while established car makers were transforming themselves into tech companies, tech companies would struggle to turn themselves into auto manufacturers. Dr Ian Robertson, a member of BMW's board of management and a former …

  1. regregular

    Well...

    Someone is full of himself.

    They may be going the way of Kodak and Agfa who missed the digital photography starting gun and continued to make film. Because of course those digital gimmicks would never catch on. Not with real photographers. Never.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      Someone is full of himself.

      In a BMW context that is always an oxymoron. It would have been more surprising if he wasn't.

      The point that the Auto industry will not allow anybody else on its turf is quite valid though. If you think that the current train crash with patents in software engineering is bad, you have not seen the IPR around cars and driving. 99% of it is surprise, surprise in the name of the usual suspects.

      1. regregular

        Re: Well...

        <blockquote>The point that the Auto industry will not allow anybody else on its turf is quite valid though.</blockquote>

        There is only so many roadblocks they (german/euro brands) can put up though. Tesla got 'em bad, in many markets the vehicle is ridiculously successful, much to the surprise of the industry. They are scared and despite best attempts can't make a purely electric vehicle that is as sought after. Considering price and shortcomings they don't really understand the success.

        The only real thing I can imagine is lobbyist intervention from the vehicle industry, essentially playing the protectionist card and undermining government approval / homologation of "newcomer / startup" vehicles. That is a very possibly approach and valid concern, but that is not what the bloke said. His point is "We're huge and our transition from vehicle manufacturer to tech company will go smoother than some vehicle/tech startup or some big tech player going vehicle manufacturer". That is a wild assumption and I see nothing to support that claim.

        1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

          Re: Well...

          @regregular: "Tesla got 'em bad, in many markets the vehicle is ridiculously successful, much to the surprise of the industry".

          Not so sure about this. TSLA is steadily in the red financially, bleeding money year after year which, for me, counts more towards the reality of being "ridiculously successful" than the coolness factor of a niche product. Tesla are nowhere close to having an iPhone class product. BMW sold ~2.4M cars last year with ~EUR7B after tax profits, on ~EUR94B revenue. Tesla produced ~84K cars last year (delivered ~76K), with revenue of ~USD7B and ~USD675M losses. I do not see BMW, let alone the automotive industry as a whole, shaking in their boots because of Tesla's "ridiculous success" yet. [All the numbers come from the official financial statements that are easy to find on the 'net.]

          Not everybody seems to be ecstatic about the product, either. Negative consumer opinions about Model S and Model X quality issues on delivery abound, too. It is not clear to me whether those issues are systemic or anecdotal. To be fair (and anecdotal), a friend had horrible experience with is new BMW 5 series a few years back - BMW had to replace the car.

          I also have my doubts regarding, say, MobilEye valuation: is a company that produces a minor and non-unique optional feature that amounts to a sensor rather than a complete functional component of any future autonomous vehicle really worth ~30% of the market cap of BMW (or Ford, or GM)? Maybe BMW have a reason to be skeptical (should I say, realistic?) about such a Silicon Valley approach to the field?

          And apart from Tesla, no other frequently mentioned player - Google, Uber, now Intel - seems to think of making their own vehicles. Rather, they'll want their technology to be adopted by the incumbents, who, by the way, understand the inherent responsibilities and liabilities far better than the overly optimistic Silicon Valley geeks. So I, for one, expect the BMWs of the world to remain in the driver's seat and to keep their badges on the hoods of those autonomous cars.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well...

        If a company produces a real, working system that can handle full autonomy and no other company has one, that company will have so much investment capital available that they'll be able to buy several car companies.

        Mobileye was purchased for $15B and it doesn't even have autonomy yet.

        BMW's market cap is $60B.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well...

      There's still an awful lot of engineering that go's into any car, this stuff is bread and butter for companies like BMW.

      While creating a self-driving car is a technological marvel, it counts for little if you don't know how to actually put a car together in the first place.

      1. regregular

        Re: Well...

        <blockquote>There's still an awful lot of engineering that go's into any car, this stuff is bread and butter for companies like BMW.

        While creating a self-driving car is a technological marvel, it counts for little if you don't know how to actually put a car together in the first place.</blockquote>

        I somewhat disagree. Building cars, nowdays, is not that rocket-sciencey thing that it happened to be in the post-war era during which the big german brands built their reputation.

        Isolate it: You have the chassis. That's essentially metal cutting and stamping and automated weld jobs. If you have the tech to produce military helmets or cooking pots you can stamp the sheets / panels that make a car.

        Next: Engine / transmission / differentials. Those are what most brand reputation is built around. And they are indeed the bit that is very hard to get right, lots of moving parts, high rpms, high temperatures, demands like efficiency and emission regulations to be met. But even the halo brands are starting to branch out developments on those parts to independents and then buy the final product, such as transmissions from ZF or Getrag.

        Suspension / Brakes: Those are usually grabbed from the shelves of independents and adjusted to the required specs.

        Engine ECU and the myriad of other control units: Third party. Bosch, Magneti Marelli etc etc

        Interior: Hard to get right, not because of technological challenge but due to the large variety of customer taste and conceptions of how a car should look and feel like. But definately no rocket science involved there.

        So, if you want to build a car these days, there is certainly a large financial overhead required for design, prototyping and the machine park. But everything you need you can buy from relatively independent 3rd party OEMs, except for the engine, which might require a bit of looking for a struggling manufacturer who needs some cashflow and will take your money even if it might hurt his industry as a whole. Or you could just avoid that issue, dump the burner and go electric like Tesla did.

        If anyone is going to take over the driving seat in the autonomous driving market I believe it will be a vehicle brand independent 3rd party OEM.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Well...

        There's still an awful lot of engineering that go's into any car, this stuff is bread and butter for companies like BMW.

        The vast majority of the engineering in a car is in the engine, transmission and the suspension. Replace that with a motor in each wheel, active suspension and an actuator for the steering and you've replaced traditional engineering with software and suddenly that bread and butter starts to like toast.

        Of course, (some of) the traditional car makers will survive. We've seen this before. Kodak may have destroyed itself but the line up of major camera brands today would be largely recognisable to someone from 50 years ago. But the car makers are going to have a fight on their hands and this looks like an early salvo.

        1. regregular

          Re: Well...

          <blockquote>Of course, (some of) the traditional car makers will survive. We've seen this before. Kodak may have destroyed itself but the line up of major camera brands today would be largely recognisable to someone from 50 years ago.</blockquote>

          Well... Next to manufacturers of old (Nikon, Canon) you will find brands you never expected to make a car (Sony, Panasonic) and an absence of respected brands gone under... (i.e. Minolta, Konica). So yeah, it might be "largely" recognizable, but that 50 year time traveller might just wonder what the heck happened and how those reputed brands could have missed the turning of the tide.

          1. Fr. Ted Crilly
            Coat

            Re: Well...

            Sony bought the Minolta/KonicaMinolta operation more or less outright, some of the imaging/scanning IP did not come with the deal but stayed with the KM photocopier/scanning side, it took Sony several generations of SLR bodies to advance to where KM got to (some say they still aren’t there yet) with the last bodies produced (KM 5d + KM 7d) under their own engineering efforts. The first two Sony DSLR's A100 + A700 (sans the above IP) were both children of KM efforts re badged as Sonys.

            Did you know KM did contract lens element production work for Zeiss and Leica :-) I met a bloke once who had a 100-F2... he allowed me to fondle it for a moment.

    3. Broooooose

      Re: Well...

      Not the best analogy, but I see your point. I think the nuts and bolt of the article is that it will be harder for tech companies to build great cars, that it will be for auto companies to build great tech into already super cars. Now, that's not going to stop new entrants, but I don't see the bigger players dying away, as your analogy would suggest. I think there may be opportunities for these tech companies in specific verticals, geographies and use cases, which in turn, may very well translate back into very day consumer purchases once they get their heads round building vehicles and not writing code. Least not forget we already have Tesla doing quite well, but it's actually taken them quite a long time to get these. So new entry wont be easy. However, who's to say a tech giant wont buy a car company and integrate their solution? Gets them over a few hurdles ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well...

        What I think is interesting about the like of Tesla is that they are doing well but they are the only sensible electric car are the moment, mainly due to range but also looks and size of vehicle come into this.

        However it'll be interesting to see how they do once many manufacturers offer electric cars as well as connected etc. One area Tesla need to improve is fit and finish of the interior, they are very American and cheap looking at the moment.

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      Autonomous cars require the same sort of production lines as conventional vehicles - production lines already operated by BMW et al. Whereas,the production of photographic film and of digital camera sensors are very different.

      A bad analogy is like a grapefruit.

      1. regregular

        Re: Well...

        The actual similarity I was referring to was not the kind of production or development processes that would have to be changed.

        But in the arrogance of the industry heavyweights. The too-big-too-fail assumption. "Customer will buy what we push, everything else is a fad". Automotive industry is quite conservative in adopting new concepts, because the market used to be very conservative. And the film industry existed with hardly any innovations for decades. That breeds a certain leadership mindset, and I think there is a lot of congruence here.

    5. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      You will be surprised how digital BMW really is... and snotty little upstarts like Uber and Google will have a lot to learn still... BMW et al (and especially Volvo & Saab) have decades of data to fall back on that the newbies don't have. I'd rather trust a BMW self-driving vehicle than Google, Tesla or Uber (in that order).

      1. regregular

        Re: Well...

        What kind of decades worth of data are you referring to that will be beneficial to BMW et al in surpassing other competitors in this particular realm?

        And while I agree with the sentiment of rather trusting a autonomous BMW with my life, I probably do it for different reasons. Assuming the worst, a heavy accident, I would want to be in a vehicle made by people that have more experience in designing cars to ace the crash tests. For now at least. That is a bit of experience I grant to the established brands.

        But that is a sentimental, not a logical preference. Because whatever advantage BMW et al might have there can be matched by newcomers relatively quick. It's just mechanical engineering, not black magic. And the more digitally refined autonomous cars might have prevented the accident or softened the impact with an earlier reaction time in the first place.

        Full disclosure: I love cars, I drive a BMW, I love it to death and will very likely keep it until it falls to pieces while other cars do the daily driving, but the attitude of the big brands towards the paradigm shift in mobility bugs me a lot.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: Well...

          The big brands are not unaware of this shift at all, but this isn't the usual tech story of one overarching monopoly being toppled by a disruptive newcomer that then becomes a monopoly (and repeat...) - the car business is far more diverse, and doesn't gravitate to one pole the way IT does.

          If there's something you're not considering, I think it's how the average customer will treat autonomy. For personal transport, it's not a product category, but rather a feature. An important feature, but a feature nonetheless, and one that may not be too desirable outside of the unique traffic environment of the mass-transit-starved SF Bay. [ Freight and logistics is a completely different matter, but nobody in "tech" seems to care about goods transport, because they don't own vans ]

          You drive a BMW. BMW does not make its own transmissions. It relies on specialist companies (Getrag and ZF-Friedrichshafen at present) to provide it with suitable systems. Similarly, everything in the interior of your car is made not by BMW, but by other companies: Adient (seats), Faurecia (dashboard trim), Magnetti Marelli (switchgear and instrumentation, and external lighting).

          So, let's say BMW wants to make autonomous cars on one side, and Uber/Google/whoever wants to make autonomous cars on the other. Whereas the Silicon Valley people have to source and build everything around their big feature to make a car from it, the likes of BMW simply has to find one of the many autonomous-vehicle companies and strike a deal with them to build that killer feature into a BMW.

          This is how the car business works. Most "innovative technologies" pioneered by car brands are from third-party suppliers who specialise in these things.

          If it's "just mechanical engineering", why has Waymo/Google abandoned its grand plans to build autonomous cars, and partnered with Fiat-Chrysler instead? Google can get the userbase it wants without having to put pour to twenty billion dollars into developing a wide-range car manufacturing business, in an already fiercely competitive market with narrow margins and an unknown chance of success.

          1. regregular

            Re: Well...

            <blockquote>The big brands are not unaware of this shift at all, [...] the car business is far more diverse, and doesn't gravitate to one pole the way IT does. [...] If there's something you're not considering, I think it's how the average customer will treat autonomy. For personal transport, it's not a product category, but rather a feature. An important feature, but a feature nonetheless, and one that may not be too desirable outside of the unique traffic environment of the mass-transit-starved SF Bay.</blockquote>

            It's true, the demands put towards a car are very diverse and change from region to region and between each customer. I can only regard trends I see developing here in Germany, and the trend here is towards not owning a car anymore at all. Many urbanites these days just register with a car-sharing service and pick up a car somewhere in the neighborhood when they need one. This is of course vastly different in the US where public transport is not as developed and where usually longer distances are involved. But with that generation autonomous driving seems to be very popular, because despite needing a car every now and then they are not keen on driving. And of course they are not at all brand-loyal, excited by horses or torque or in need of color-matched contrast stitched leather seats or legendary panel gaps. They don't own the car, they just happen to drive it whereever and want it to be as simple as possible. Autonomy is an important feature, while many of the other features that make the brand identity of certain manufacturers are losing importance very, very fast.

            <blockquote>You drive a BMW. BMW does not make its own transmissions. [...] Similarly, everything in the interior of your car is made not by BMW, but by other companies: Adient (seats), Faurecia (dashboard trim), Magnetti Marelli (switchgear and instrumentation, and external lighting). [...] This is how the car business works. Most "innovative technologies" pioneered by car brands are from third-party suppliers who specialise in these things.</blockquote>

            Exactly, thanks for reaffirming this, I brought up those exact points in a previous post in this thread (currently 5th post down from top).

            <blockquote>So, let's say BMW wants to make autonomous cars on one side, and Uber/Google/whoever wants to make autonomous cars on the other. Whereas the Silicon Valley people have to source and build everything around their big feature to make a car from it, the likes of BMW simply has to find one of the many autonomous-vehicle companies and strike a deal with them to build that killer feature into a BMW.</blockquote>

            Generally, you are right of course. Two points though: this can cut both ways. Silicon Valley cash reserves rival many nations annual GDP. There might just be a buyout of an established but struggling carmaker by the Valley that then starts to churn out the whatever-car. Valley likes to buy turn-key solutions and an established manufacturer will have all the machines, sources, personnel, dealership network and know-how. That is my point, making a car today is not black magic anymore. The autonomy development is, the rest is up for grabs on the market if you have the cash.

            Also, if BMW sources the "killer feature" components from a 3rd party, how can they claim that BMW is / will remain in the driving seat regarding autonomous driving in the future. That is a major claim I am in disagreement with.

            Also, there is the difference in company liability between the USA and Germany. In a nutshell, before something can be marketed in Europe, you have to conclusively prove that your product works as advertised, is safe and won't cause damage or hurt/maim/kill people. In the USA you essentially have a free-for-all situation where a company can throw a product out, but then if it fails and causes damage or loss of life the lawyers are rubbing their hands. I am not sure how that difference can be squared between a german manufacturer and a US supplier, especially when the determination of safety is so immensely complex. For tires, shocks or other products the determination is easily done in a lab prior to approval.

            So, my point remains, I am relatively certain that the major german manufacturers will get seriously sideswiped in the not too distant future by a product with superior autonomous features that they thumbed their noses at before, like the Tesla. And playing the catch-up game on two fronts, electric mobility and autonomous driving might prove impossible and drive them into a tiny niche or bankruptcy. The arrogance displayed by the BMW bloke mentioned in the article is very uncalled for.

            <blockquote>If it's "just mechanical engineering", why has Waymo/Google abandoned its grand plans to build autonomous cars, and partnered with Fiat-Chrysler instead? </blockquote>

            The last I read about that is that Google does not plan to follow the completely autonomous vehicle without wheels or pedals any further and has shifted that branch of development off towards Waymo. Regarding the Fiat/Chrysler deal, the last bit I read was that Google took delivery of 100 Chrysler vehicles to enlargen their test fleet. This suggest to me that they are not quite there yet, but not exactly giving up either. I am not sure if this qualifies as a partnership. With those ugly LIDAR contraption on the roof of the Chrysler Pacifica vehicles I am very sure that this is not a pre-production prototype but just a technology testbed that could just as well have been delivered by any manufacturer. But maybe I misread that or missed specifics of that deal.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Well...

              "Silicon Valley cash reserves rival many nations annual GDP. There might just be a buyout of an established but struggling carmaker by the Valley that then starts to churn out the whatever-car. Valley likes to buy turn-key solutions and an established manufacturer will have all the machines, sources, personnel, dealership network and know-how. "

              Highlighted very recently by the GM sale of their UK and European Vauxhal/Opel facilities to Peugeot, lock stock and barrel for £1.9B. Chump change (almost!) to the likes of Google, so it's eminently possible for a brave tech company to take the whole process in-house rather than partnering with a car maker.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well...

        You will be surprised how digital BMW

        I am not - I remember that for them CAN was not enough, so they actually invested into the development of Automotive Ethernet. I am not sure they are using it, but the fact that the bandwidth of the CAN bus is not enough by itself speaks volume of how much of the car is digitized.

        That however does not excuse them from needing plasterers on payroll - to fix the ceilings ploughed by their noses wherever they go.

      3. Morten Bjoernsvik

        Re: Well...

        <quote>

        You will be surprised how digital BMW really is... and snotty little upstarts like Uber and Google will have a lot to learn still... BMW et al (and especially Volvo & Saab)

        </quote>

        Why do you mention SAAB, you mean the auto-manufactuer once owned by GM, who went bankrupt in late 2011 or the truck company called Scania Automotive AB now part of Volkswagen Group?

        SAAB where nice cars for Nordic winters, but selling 50K a year was far too little to survive without the GM koffers. They were trial and tested, not much advanded electronics there compared to Volvo. Which is another chapter. Owned by Chineese Geely, still doing most of the design and production in Sweden/Netherlands. but with two megafactories in China with lots of free capacity it is just a matter of time before their high end models go the same way.

    6. BillG Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Well...

      There are many people offering opinions here that I suspect never designed automotive electronic systems. Basically, it is about two-thirds straightforward engineering and about one-third nuance that comes from experience, experience, experience.

      Believe me, the car companies know what they are doing and they are further along with EVs and autonomous driving than everyone else. They are just more secretive than Silicon Valley.

    7. John Miles

      Re: Kodak

      I am not sure Kodak can be said to have missed the starting gun as they probably fired it having designed digital sensors back in 1980s and had digital cameras in 1990s - Wiki - Kodak DCS, they however failed to understand and react to the changing world that made the computer and digital camera an option for everyone.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Connected?

    While much he says is reasonable, "connected" has not much to do with comfort and reduces security!

  3. brakepad

    Wrong

    Personally I think he's wrong, and I'm an engineer not a compsci. There is no doubt that the engineering that goes in to a modern car is immense, but fundamentally it's not new. Manufacturing techniques, suspension design, NVH, engine development etc - all vast &refined topics in their own right but all mature with lots of existing designs to work from and knowledgable people to poach. Self driving tech by comparison is still in its infancy, and a huge amount of the work done so far is very secret and would have to be repeated by anyone wishing to enter the fray.

    I'll be surprised if any of the major car manufacturers get to where Google is *now* in 5 years time in terms of how advanced their self driving systems are.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Wrong

      "... the engineering that goes in to a modern car is immense, but fundamentally it's not new."

      Even more fundamentally, it is nothing to do with driving. The self-driving cars that people are working on at the moment have three parts: a car, dozens of sensors, and some software.

      The first is a commodity. All the tech firms who are doing research in this area have simply bought a car and modified it. As and when they perfect their algorithms, they will either license the technology (perhaps just to the big auto manufacturers but perhaps more widely) or they will simply buy cars from the cheapest manufacturer and modify them. It's not like Google or Apple don't have cash piles that would help them get this sort of business going, or like there would be a shortage of investors willing to help.

      The second is also a commodity but not a commodity currently made by car manufacturers. The likes of BMW are no better placed than the likes of Google in sourcing this stuff or fitting it to a vehicle.

      The third is the subject of research and It Seems Quite Likely To Me that the companies that are best placed in *this* race are ones that specialise in doing clever things with algorithms. The last I heard, the auto industry's IT departments were trying to fiddle their emissions results whereas Google and Apple were taking on problems like machine translation, speech recognition and machine vision.

      So, yeah, it's hard to know where the smart people are going to put their money.

    2. Jaybus

      Re: Wrong

      "...all mature with lots of existing designs to work from and knowledgeable people to poach."

      Of course, but the devil is in the details. Yes, it gets a car built, but at what cost? Dr. Robertson has a background in maritime studies and extensive experience in automotive sales and marketing, along with purchasing. When he mentions that it will be "easier" for BMW, I have to think that he is referring to "financially easier".

      Having all of the pieces is not good enough, because it does not ensure an optimal production line. Sooner or later, all of the above will (or could) have autonomous cars. The winners will be those who do so without pricing themselves out of the market. I have to agree with Dr. Robertson that BMW, (and Ford, Honda, etc.) can add autonomous driving to a commercially successful car more easily than tech companies can add optimized vehicle production lines. It will be much cheaper to add the tech than to add the entire production line. And, yes, the poaching will be critical, but works both ways.

  4. MT Field

    The guy is just reminding investors to stick with the established industry players, and avoid falling for hype.

    1. Alistair Silver badge

      "The guy is just reminding investors to stick with the established industry players his corporate stock, and avoid falling for hype crushing the value of his golden parachute."

      FTFY

      The auto industry, globally, has demonstrated that there is *very* little they will NOT do to protect *themselves* from any hint of competition.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can automakers execute without building walled gardens?

    The biggest challenge in this space is the walled gardens that both automakers and tech companies are building. They each want to own the data... the massive amounts of data it takes to execute effectively.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gotta agree with BMW here

    Getting a car on the road is harder than getting a bit of software written. Sure, designing a car isn't rocket science. But it does require investment into manufacturing. Seem to recall Google's entry into manufacturing (remember Motorola) lasted a whole 3 years and lost them ~$10 billion.

    Sure, they could outsource the manufacturing, or even buy an existing manufacturer (like Google did with Motorola). But it still requires that the tech companies branch out into fields that they just aren't very good at.

    BMW et al, only need programmers, they already have the production lines and design teamss for making a car.

    But that isn't even the showstopper for the tech companies. The showstopper is an area where the tech companies have shown a complete inabilty to compy with.

    Regulation.

    You can't just design and build a car and drive it right out of the factory. You have to get it to meet regulatory requirements for road use. And given Google and Ubers current attitude to regulations, I don't see them ever being able to comply with more stringent regulation.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Gotta agree with BMW here

      "given Google and Ubers current attitude to regulations"

      One major difference is the big software businesses like Google, etc, have never had to write or certify safety-critical stuff.

      Just now they hare playing at testing cars on the road but at what point is it all going to be subject to the sort of analysis, testing and approval that companies that write for aircraft systems, etc, have to do? And if not, why not? Why should a motorised object that are more than capable of killing and maiming be programmed by the sort of folk who write web browsers that randomly fall over with "Opps!" messages and they think its ok?

    2. BitDr

      Re: Gotta agree with BMW here

      Hmmmmm

      "You have to get it to meet regulatory requirements for road use".

      With the removal of the Internal Combustion Engine, the transmission/transaxle, and all of their supporting sub-systems, vehicles are LESS mechanically complex. Meeting road worthiness requirements no longer requires meeting emissions. The lighting, crash, instrumentation, SRS, and pedestrian safety are all that's left to meet road worthiness requirements, not counting greasing corrupt bureaucrats palms where required.

  7. FelixReg

    Cars built by an OEM

    Is it possible that some car manufacturer will end up building cars to spec? Rather like a chip foundry?

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: Cars built by an OEM

      Happens now. E.g., Magna builds cars for BMW:

      http://www.bmwblog.com/2016/01/15/magna-international-has-won-a-major-contract-to-build-vehicles-for-bmw/

      http://www.bnn.ca/magna-to-make-bmw-s-5-series-sedans-at-austrian-plant-1.567348

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your autonomous car...

    Brought to you by BMW (A Google Ventures subsiduary).

  10. dajames Silver badge

    It's not about engineering ...

    ... it's about Intellectual Property.

    The big motor companies own all the patents on the stuff that goes into cars. They will not license those technologies cheaply to competitors from the IT world. It'll be cheaper for tech companies to get into partnerships with motor companies than to license, or (literally) to reinvent the wheel.

  11. vistisen

    I suspect 5 years will be more like 50

    At the moment the so called intelligent cars, have to have a team of people poring over data, preparing specific routes for each journey, making sure that there no nasty unexpected surprises. Until I can get in the car and say take me to the supermarket, no we need to stop at the station on the way. There's too much traffic because of the road works, so take med by the backway. even though the snow is covering the white lines. Then automatic cars are not for me.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BMW + Mobileye/Intel + HERE + others

    In the ADAS/AD world there are already powerful partnerships in place. the most dominant players are: BOSCH, Conti, Mobileye(Intel), Valeo, Hella and a lot of others. All is centered around high precise digital maps - this is were ex-Microsoft HERE comes into play. On board IT is dominated by Nvidia. The "world" of senors is a driving force here. Thanks to the mobile world camera sensors are very cheap and powerful. Lidar sensors are still somewhat expensive but Velodyne and other will find a way to lower costs here.

  13. Dan 10

    4TB per car per day!

    That's a heck of a big data project to derive travel and use trends from even a small marketshare.

    Sorry, just drooling.

  14. Fazal Majid

    Unjustified arrogance

    I am a BMW driver, and given the horrendous nature of their in-car electronics and software, I have severe doubts about their software chops. They are resisting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto despite clear customer demand for in-car software that doesn't suck, and think they can play the same customer-hostile games with autonomy.

    In any case, it's not relevant. Tesla outsells BMW, Audi and Mercedes 2-to-1 in the $50K+ segment, and is now coming to eat their lunch in their bread-and-butter entry-level luxury (3 Series / A4 / C Class) segment with the model 3. Despite having nearly 10 years warning, the luxury brands don't have an even remotely compelling all-electric offer for sale today, just vaporware. They are going to be too busy scrambling to survive to be fighting on the autonomous driving front, where Google et al have hired up all the machine learning PhDs needed to make the required breakthroughs.

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