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BMW, Intel, Mobileye: 40 autonomous BMWs to be on road by 2H 2017; standards-based open platform for autonomy

BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye announced that a fleet of approximately 40 autonomous BMW vehicles will be on the roads by the second half of 2017, demonstrating the significant advancements made by the three companies towards fully autonomous driving. Revealing this at a podium discussion held during a joint press conference at CES, the companies further explained that the BMW 7 Series will employ advanced Intel and Mobileye technologies during global trials starting in the US and Europe.

In July 2016, BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye announced a collaboration to bring solutions for highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021. The three said they would create a standards-based open platform—from door locks to the datacenter—for the next generation of cars. (Earlier post.) The companies have since developed a scalable architecture that can be adopted by other automotive developers and carmakers to pursue state of the art designs and create differentiated brands. The offerings scale from individual key integrated modules to a complete end-to-end solution providing a wide range of differentiated consumer experiences.

As part of this partnership, the BMW Group will be responsible for driving control and dynamics, evaluation of overall functional safety including setting up a high performance simulation engine, overall component integration, production of prototypes and eventually scaling the platform via deployment partners.

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BMW engineer André Mueller tests autonomous driving technology in a BMW autonomous test car. Click to enlarge.

Making autonomous driving a reality for our customers is the shared ambition behind our cooperation with Intel and Mobileye. This partnership has all of the skills and talent necessary to overcome the enormous technological challenges ahead and commercialize self-driving vehicles. Therefore, we are already thinking in terms of scalability and welcome other companies—manufacturers, suppliers or technology companies—to participate and contribute to our autonomous platform. This year our fleet of vehicles will already test this joint technology globally under real traffic conditions. This is a significant step towards the introduction of the BMW iNEXT in 2021, which will be the BMW Group’s first fully autonomous vehicle.

—Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Development

Intel brings to the partnership innovative high performance computing elements that span from the vehicle to the data center. The newly launched Intel GO solution for autonomous driving offers world class processor and FPGA technologies for the most efficient balance of performance and power, while meeting the stringent thermal and safety requirements of the automotive industry.

Intel GO automated driving solutions include high-performance in-vehicle computing, software development tools, 5G-ready connectivity, a robust data center platform, and the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI).

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  • Intel GO development platforms for automated driving, including both Intel Atom and Intel Xeon processor versions, make it easier for developers to build, evaluate, benchmark, and optimize automated driving solutions, ranging from Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to fully autonomous vehicles. These platforms jumpstart development, enable flexibility in design, and speed time-to-market. Both platforms include Intel Arria 10 FPGAs to speed production and come with a set of sample applications, run times and libraries, and middleware.

  • The Intel GO automotive software development kit (SDK) helps developers and system designers maximize hardware capabilities while speeding the pace of development. It includes computer vision, deep learning, and OpenCL* tool kits, as well as a sensor data labeling tool, performance libraries, and other helpful resources.

  • The Intel GO automotive 5G platform, available in February 2017, offers the industry’s first 5G-ready platform for the automotive segment. It will allow automakers to develop and test a wide range of use cases and applications.

  • Intel technologies for data center support Intel GO automated driving solutions with full scalability to continuously store and manage unprecedented volumes of data and enable cloud services. Sophisticated hardware, based on Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors, delivers the high-performance computing needed to support artificial intelligence (AI) and other intensive workloads. Intel technologies for data center are optimized for machine learning and deep learning to accelerate the time it takes to create AI-based driving models.

From an industry perspective, we are already seeing savings and speed in development by sharing development costs and in pooling resources to develop a complete autonomous platform. The car to cloud system will perform with consistent, predictable behavior and is validated to the highest level of safety. That’s why this partnership is breaking new ground. We have established a dedicated team with clear, shared goals and a culture of innovation and agility and accountability.

—Intel CEO Brian Krzanich

Mobileye contributes its proprietary EyeQ5 high-performance computer vision processor (earlier post) offering automotive-grade functional safety and low-power performance. The EyeQ5 is responsible for processing and interpretation of input from the 360-degree surround view vision sensors as well as localization. EyeQ5, in combination with Intel CPU and FPGA technologies, forms the Central Computing Platform to be integrated into each autonomous vehicle.

Mobileye is developing the fifth-generation SoC EyeQ5 to act as the vision central computer performing sensor fusion for Fully Autonomous Driving (Level 5) vehicles that will hit the road in 2020. To meet power consumption and performance targets, EyeQ SoCs are designed in most advanced VLSI process technology nodes—down to 7nm FinFET in the 5th generation.

EyeQ5 will feature eight multithreaded CPU cores coupled with eighteen cores of Mobileye’s next-generation vision processors. Taken together, these enhancements will increase performance 8x times over the current 4th generation EyeQ4. The EyeQ5 will produce more than 12 Tera operations per second, while keeping power consumption below 5W, to maintain passive cooling at extraordinary performance.

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EyeQ5’s proprietary accelerator cores are optimized for a wide variety of computer-vision, signal-processing, and machine-learning tasks, including deep neural networks. EyeQ5 features heterogeneous, fully programmable accelerators, with each of the four accelerator types in the chip optimized for its own family of algorithms. This diversity of accelerator architectures enables applications to save both computational time and energy by using the most suitable core for every task. This optimized assignment ensures the EyeQ5 provides “super-computer” capabilities within a low-power envelope to enable price-efficient passive cooling. Mobileye's investment in several programmable domain-specific accelerator families is enabled by its focus on the ADAS and autonomous-driving markets.

Mobileye will further collaborate with the BMW Group to develop the sensor fusion solution, creating a full model of the environment surrounding the vehicle, using input from vision, radar, and lidar sensors. As well as establishing a driving policy, including Mobileye’s reinforcement learning algorithms used to endow the vehicle system with the artificial intelligence required to safely negotiate complex driving situations.

Over the last six months, we have made very good progress in designing a state-of-the-art solution for autonomous driving on both highways and in urban areas. The solution has been defined in a scalable manner to allow affiliate automakers to meet their unique needs.

—Mobileye Co-Founder, Chairman and CTO Professor Amnon Shashua

To further propel the development of the autonomous platform, the partnership plans to release hardware samples and software updates in the upcoming years. The BMW iNEXT model, which will be introduced in 2021, will be the foundation for BMW Group’s autonomous driving strategy. Following this vehicle, a range of highly automated models from all BMW Group brands will follow.

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