BMW and Mercedes cease joint development of self-driving system

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BMW and Mercedes-Benz said in a joint statement Friday they have ceased cooperation on development of self-driving car technology.

The cooperation started in February 2019 as means to accelerate the development of the technology. However following an extensive review, the two have now mutually decided to continue their developments in the field independently.

In a statement, BMW R&D chief Klaus Froehlich said the Munich-based automaker was prepared in the area of self-driving technology “for many years” ahead thanks to its existing partnerships with tech companies Intel, Moileye and Ansys.

Frohlich’s counterpart at Mercedes, Markus Schaefer, said the Stuttgart-based automaker would also look at its partnerships with firms not directly involved in manufacturing cars. One of these is Bosch which has been working closely with Mercedes on self-driving technology for almost a decade.

Despite the end of the cooperation, both BMW and Mercedes said they were open to reviving the cooperation in the future. They also said they would continue cooperation in other areas, such as their joint work in mobility services.

BMW and Mercedes have previously said they plan to have cars with very limited self-driving capability on sale in 2021, and that they see cars with SAE Level 4 self-driving capability being ready around 2024. A Level 4 self-driving car would enable extended periods of eyes-off, hands-free driving in select conditions. BMW and Mercedes last July said those initial conditions could include highway driving and parking situations.

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