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BMW looks towards Munich for an autonomous testing facility

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【Summary】BMW plans to open a facility in Munich, Germany where it can test and engineer its self-driving cars.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Dec 28, 2016 4:30 PM PT
BMW looks towards Munich for an autonomous testing facility

Automakers are in a heated race to put autonomous cars on the road and BMW, which boldly claimed that it wanted to come out with its own self-driving car by 2021, just made a giant leap towards its goal by announcing plans to open an autonomous driving center near Munich, Germany.

At the new self-driving facility, BMW will focus its efforts on creating autonomous cars and new vehicle connectivity technology. When completed, the facility will employ approximately 2,000 employees, who will work on various projects including developing software for autonomous vehicles to be road tested. In addition to serving as the prime location for the development of self-driving cars, the facility near Munich will also be a location where BMW will test its vehicles.

Currently, BMW employs roughly 600 people that work on the automaker's autonomous technology, the majority of which, according to BMW, are in charge of developing software. The employees, as BMW puts it, work at various locations. Needless to say, having one prime location to create, test, and implement its self-driving tech would be a smart move from BMW.

Instead of having to have multiple locations working on different aspects of autonomous technology, the concept of having one facility to do it all would save BMW time and money. The concept of testing its self-driving cars at its own facility is also a change from other automakers and companies that are choosing to test vehicles on public roads.

Incredibly, BMW is hoping to start testing its self-driving cars at the new facility by next year.

The location in Munich will greatly help the automaker with its self-driving vehicles, more specifically the release of the BMW iNext, which is expected to be BMW's first autonomous vehicle, by 2021.

There isn't a lot of information on the iNext besides the fact that the vehicle will become BMW's flagship model. As Green Car Reports pointed out earlier this year, BMW CEO Harald Kruger claimed the iNext will have "autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design" and a redesigned interior. The all-electric, self-driving vehicle will join the automaker's current lineup of "i" branded vehicles, which include the i3 and i8.

 As far as autonomous technology, BMW has been hard at work by getting a leg up on the competition. Back in July, the German automaker announced a partnership with Intel and Mobileye, an Israeli computer vision company, to create an open platform that would underpin its upcoming vehicles. Mobileye currently offers its collision-prevention software to Volkswagen and General Motors.

In the race to stay one step ahead of the competition, BMW packed its new 5-Series to the gills with autonomous technology. The seventh-generation 5-Series has an advanced piece of technology called Active Driving Assistant. The new tech is programmed to make an evasive maneuver to avoid an accident. For example, if the car's radar system and cameras sense that the vehicle in front has come to a sudden stop, it will complete an evasive maneuver to enter the next lane. The system can work at speeds of up to 100 mph.

In addition to being able to make an evasive action, the new 5-Series has a semi-autonomous system to give drivers a break in traffic, a system that parks the vehicle, and a remote parking system that allows owners to control the vehicle through the key fob.

With a new facility, BMW's advancements in self-driving technology will surely make its way to the automaker's wide range of vehicles.  

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