BMW and Intel add Fiat to self-driving partnership

Nicholas Shields
Self Driving Cars Forecast

BII


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Fiat Chrysler has joined a self-driving car partnership between Intel and BMW, according to CNBC. Engineers from all three companies will work to improve self-driving systems and vehicles by working on AI, machine learning, and sensor technology.

Those efforts will occur in different locations around the world, including Germany and the US.

Adding Fiat Chrysler to the partnership could help the companies bring a vehicle to market faster, and possibly expand into new ventures.

  • It could help the companies bring a vehicle to market faster. Combining Intel's tech prowess and BMW and Fiat Chrysler's manufacturing know-how could allow for faster progress on self-driving cars than would be possible if the companies were working independently. That could help the automakers to bring a car to market ahead of schedule, giving them an even bigger leg up on rivals like Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and Hyundai that plan to deploy autonomous vehicles later.
  • And building out the partnership could help open new frontiers, like self-driving trucks, to its members. Autonomous trucks offer numerous benefits — such as faster shipping and lower fuel costs — to both companies that ship goods and their end customers, it's likely they will come into high demand once the technology is ready. Fiat Chrysler has a robust background in semi-trucks — the company has been building them for over two decades, and currently sells the vehicles in both the European and North American markets. Given this background in the space, the companies take the technology stack they've developed for self-driving cars, and apply a similar set of technologies to trucks if the firms choose to go this route.

But while the firms may want to use Fiat Chrysler to expand their global reach, it's not yet clear that some international markets are ready for autonomous cars. One of the primary assets Fiat-Chrysler brings to the table in the self-driving car market is its global scale — the company owns 11 different automakers that are based in three continents — so it's possible the companies could want to leverage this scale to deploy self-driving cars in new international markets. But evidence is mounting that the roads in many developing markets might not be suited for self-driving cars — the cars' systems rely on existing road signs, which in many developing countries are either very difficult for a computing system to read, or don't exist at all. Further, India has suggested it could ban autonomous cars from its streets, an approach that could be taken by other countries that fear self-driving cars could leave millions of cab drivers unemployed.

Peter Newman, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that:

  • Sizes the current and future self-driving car market, forecasting shipments and projecting installed base.
  • Explains the current state of technology, regulation, and consumer perception.
  • Analyzes how the development of autonomous cars will impact employment and the economy.

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