Self-driving cars might sound like something out of a science-fiction movie, but they’re actually closer to becoming a reality than you might think. Recently, BMW and Daimler, the maker of Mercedes Benz, announced their intention to collaborate on developing autonomous driving technology. The luxury car companies, who were once rivals, aim to release the first self-driving system by the mid-2020s. Here’s what you need to know about the technology development and what it potentially means for the BMW brand.
What is Autonomous Driving?
In its purest form, a fully autonomous vehicle requires no human interaction to operate. Although there are vehicles with some self-driving technologies, there are currently no legally-operating fully-autonomous vehicles in the United States.
To help the average person understand the evolution of this technology, BMW has broken it down into a five-stage process.
Level one and two vehicles use automated features like cruise-control, assisted braking, and parking-assist, but still need human interaction to operate safely. A level-three vehicle allows the car itself to manage all of the safety-critical functions, but still requires humans to intervene when alerted. Level-four vehicles are fully autonomous except in certain driving scenarios, while level-five vehicles are completely self-sufficient and don’t require a driver at all.
Expected Benefits and Concerns
As with any new technology, there’s plenty of speculation about the expected benefits and potential concerns.
Safety is obviously at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Some argue that software is less prone to error than human drivers, giving this technology the potential to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents. On the other hand, system failures and cybersecurity issues are major concerns.
Another potential benefit is the mobility this technology could create for the elderly, disabled, and others who are unable to drive. However, there is also some concern about the displacement of those who drive for a living.
As the technology continues to develop, it still remains to be seen how it will impact the current transportation system and whether it will ultimately hurt or harm environmental preservation efforts.
Potential Impact on the BMW Brand
Leading the way in developing groundbreaking new technology has the potential to make or break a company. Brands that are at the head of the curve are likely to gain a significant portion of revenue and market share. However, if things go wrong, the pioneers will suffer the greatest negative impact. This could translate into huge financial losses, potential lawsuits, and a loss of trust in the brand.
It also remains to be seen how the collaboration between BMW and Daimler will play out. In addition to the autonomous driving project, the two companies have also announced a one billion Euro mobility partnership that could lead to even more growth in the future.
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