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BMW Granted Permission to Test Autonomous Cars in China

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【Summary】BMW announced that it has reached an agreement with Chinese authorities, which gives the German automaker the green light to test its autonomous tech on public roads in China.

Eric Walz    May 16, 2018 3:04 PM PT
BMW Granted Permission to Test Autonomous Cars in China
author: Eric Walz   

SHANGHAI -- BMW announced that it has reached an agreement with Chinese authorities, which gives the German automaker the green light to test its autonomous tech on public roads in China. The company was granted the ‘Shanghai Intelligent Connected Autonomous Driving Test License' two days ago.

This license is issued by the Intelligent Connected Vehicle Road Test Promotion Team – consisting of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization, Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau and Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission. The license is difficult for automakers to attain and BMW is the first foreign automaker to receive it.

Shanghai, with a population of 24 million, has some of the most challenging road conditions in the world for autonomous driving.

The company stressed that R&D in autonomous vehicles needs to complete at least 250 million kilometers of public road testing, including computer simulation and practical, real-world road tests.

BMW will be able to test the response of its systems by simulating 5 million driving conditions after each new software release. BMW has accumulated nearly 30,000 kilometers of road testing and around 200,000 kilometers of computer simulations.

The BMW iNEXT electric vehicle, scheduled to launch in 2021, will implement the safety technical requirements for Level 3 to Level 5 autopilot, Level 5 is defined as a fully automated driving experience, requiring no human intervention. Support for the program will be provided by BMW's autonomous driving R&D center in Munich.

Shanghai has given out the first three of the road testing licenses since March 1. Two other Chinese automobile manufacturers were also granted the license, SAIC Motor and NIO. Both companies have completed about 40 days of road tests so far, accumulating test mileage of 6,040 kilometers.

The BMW autonomous driving team, which relocated to Shanghai, includes over 60 experts in their respective fields. Using the license, BMW's research team will gather several petabytes of data based on actual traffic, covering its full complexity. This data will be used to train machine learning algorithms to perform adequate Level 4 autonomous driving behavior.

The test sites in Shanghai currently cover a total length of about 5.6 kilometers, which BMW plans to expand quickly. The company's test fleet is based on the latest BMW 7 Series models, starting with two test vehicles in May and adding up to seven vehicles by December.

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