BMW, Tencent to Open Computing Center in China For Self-Driving Cars
【Summary】German automaker BMW and Chinese internet technology giant Tencent Holdings are teaming up to launch a computing center in China that will help support self-driving cars in the world’s biggest auto market, the companies said on Friday.
German automaker BMW and Chinese internet technology giant Tencent Holdings are teaming up to launch a computing center in China that will help support self-driving cars in the world's biggest auto market, the companies said on Friday.
The computing center, which will start operations by the end of the year, will provide autonomous cars with data processing capabilities for level-3 and higher self-driving. It will also allow BMW to develop autonomous driving solutions that fit better with the specific driving conditions on roads in China.
Sources familiar with the deal said to Reuters that the center will be built in the eastern port city of Tianjin.
The two companies did not disclose the financial investment in the center.
In a statement, Jochen Goller, head of BMW's China operations, said the establishment of the center will support BMW's autonomous driving development and innovation in China.
"China is at the forefront of automated driving development, and we aim to play a pioneering role in this area. "The collaboration between BMW Group and Tencent will set the benchmark for cross-industry cooperation." said Goller.
BMW said the new computing center will leverage Tencent's cloud computing and big data while providing the automaker with infrastructure needed to develop the autonomous cars. Tencent is the developer of WeChat, one of the world's biggest social media, messaging and payment apps with more than a billion monthly users in China.
BMW said that Tencent will provide IT architecture, tools and platforms across the field of automated driving research and development. The two parties will comply strictly with Chinese laws and regulations on data security, prevent data security risks and ensure data compliance using Tencent's security expertise.
Processing Large Amounts of Self-driving Vehicle Data
BMW said the platform will be used mainly for safety validation of Level-3 and the early-stage study of Level-4 autonomous driving. After 2021, the platform will assist both the post-production development of Level-3 models and research into Level-4 technologies.
The German automaker says it will likely introduce semi-autonomous cars in China in 2021. To support this rollout, BMW needs massive computing power to analyze real-time flow of digital information on road and traffic conditions, as well as processing the data from the vehicle itself.
Self-driving cars generate a significant amount of data, which can exceed 2 terabytes for each hour of driving. All of this data needs to be fused together an analyzed in real-time, therefore driverless cars need the robust data processing capabilities that Tencent can provide.
In addition, self-driving cars of the future will rely on cloud-based AI and machine learning algorithms to improve over time, allowing them to drive with little or no human intervention. To support this high level of automation, a robust data infrastructure is needed.
"The collaboration between Tencent and BMW Group has deepened over the past year or so, which proves BMW's recognition of Tencent's technical strength in the fields of cloud computing, big data, security and AI. We hope that with the continuous deepening of cooperation between the two parties, we can create a new model and a new benchmark for cooperation between Chinese technology companies and international automotive companies." said Dowson Tong, President of Tencent Cloud & Smart Industry.
BMW's planned Chinese computing center follows the opening earlier this year of a similar computing center in Munich for the automaker's autonomous driving development in Europe.
BMW is also working with China's internet search giant Baidu. In July 2018, BMW announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Baidu to join its open autonomous driving platform Apollo as a board member. Baidu's open Apollo platform is designed to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology by pooling together the resources of Apollo partners.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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