Advertisement

BMW and Mercedes put autonomous car partnership on hold

German firms had previously agreed to work together on Level 4 self-driving systems, plans that have been paused following a "mutual and amicable agreement"

BMW and Mercedes

BMW and Mercedes have placed a joint project that would have seen them develop Level 4 autonomous cars "on hold."

The firms were collaborating on a programme of development for Level 4 self-driving systems, which were due to be made available to private customers from 2024. These plans are now paused, with the two companies going their own individual ways following "extensive review".

Advertisement - Article continues below

BMW and Mercedes are at pains to stress the decision to part company in this field was made with "mutual and amicable agreement", and they "may" resume their enterprise at a later date. Some 1,200 employees from the firms were working together on the project.

Driverless cars: everything you need to know about them

A statement released by the companies said that "current business and economic conditions" meant that "the timing was not right" for the programme. The global slowdown caused by coronavirus has caused many firms to reconsider their development areas, while some companies have rowed back on or revised autonomous projects for other reasons.

Audi previously announced it was no longer aiming for Level 3 autonomy on the current A8 due to legislative and technological difficulties, while Ford has toned down its hitherto bullish expectations in the self-driving arena. 

Level 4 is considered to be a “high” level of automation, allowing cars to drive themselves when certain conditions are met. The cancelled BMW and Mercedes project was looking into developing cars that would be able to drive themselves on motorways and highways.

Level 5 is full, door-to-door automation, which works in all areas and conditions – although this was not within the scope of the firms’ agreement, and some industry insiders have predicted full Level 5 is decades, not years away.

BMW board member Klaus Fröhlich said his company's "extremely powerful sensors and computing power" would put BMW "in an excellent position to offer our customers what they need for many years.” Meanwhile, Mercedes' Markus Schäfer said: "we are currently also sounding out other possibilities with partners outside the automotive sector.”

Do you think autonomous cars are the future of motoring? Let us know in the comments below... 

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

BMW to make extras like heated seats subscription based options
News

BMW to make extras like heated seats subscription based options

New software update for models with iDrive 7 also includes automatic switching to electric power in city centres for plug-in hybrid models
2 Jul 2020
New 2021 BMW i4: prices, specs and release date
BMW

New 2021 BMW i4: prices, specs and release date

The BMW Concept i4 previewed the German brand’s forthcoming rival for the Tesla Model 3
29 Jun 2020
Apple CarKey launched in new BMWs: drivers can use their iPhone as a key
BMW

Apple CarKey launched in new BMWs: drivers can use their iPhone as a key

BMW will be the first carmaker to allow drivers to unlock their cars using just their iPhone with new Apple CarKey technology
23 Jun 2020
New Mercedes-AMG eTurbo technology revealed
Mercedes

New Mercedes-AMG eTurbo technology revealed

Mercedes-AMG’s new electrically assisted turbocharger will help combat lag on the company’s upcoming, larger turbochargers
17 Jun 2020

Most Popular

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus
Family hatchbacks

SEAT Leon vs Volkswagen Golf vs Ford Focus

The Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon are all long established hatchbacks - we find out which is best among the latest crop
11 Jul 2020
New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review
Skoda Octavia vRS Hatchback

New Skoda Octavia vRS 2020 ride review

We get our first taste of 242bhp Skoda Octavia vRS with Skoda tech development boss Christian Strube in the driver’s seat
10 Jul 2020
Suzuki Jimny axed from Europe over emissions regulations
Suzuki Jimny - off road
Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki Jimny axed from Europe over emissions regulations

Tightening emissions rules mean the Suzuki Jimny will be pulled from the European market in the coming months
8 Jul 2020