BMW has been developing autonomous technology for ten years. Despite the recent death of a Tesla driver while using the company's Autopilot system, BMW believes its technology will be fully ready for the roads in the next five years. The group is using a combination of real-world and digital simulations to test their products, with BMW, Intel, and Mobileye each sharing a bit of the project. Tesla uses a version of Mobileye's current driver-assistance technology.
BMW eventually hopes to have vehicles that don't require anyone to be in the vehicle while it drives, allowing for drop-off, pick-up, and self-parking capabilities. The group's open platform is something it hopes other manufacturers can use. The goal is to foster an archetype that regulatory bodies can use to make industry-wide laws and standards.
The auto industry seems poised for a shift toward EVs and autonomous vehicles. Volkswagen recently announced a plan to bring 30 electric cars to market in the next 10 years. Local Motors has developed autonomous, electric public transport. It's not clear what sort of vehicle BMW will bring, but it did have a modified i8 on display at the conference.