BMW, Intel and Mobileye announce deal
While the German auto giant will focus on the car itself, Intel will provide processing power and Mobileye will provide the driver-assistance systems and sensors.
BMW said that it hoped that the collaboration would enable it to put robot cars into production by as soon as 2021.
BMW moving fast to capture Chinese market
Even before this announcement, BMW had already showed off concept cars equipped with self-driving technology and it has already collaborated with Chinese internet giant Baidu to produce self-driving cars suited to the Chinese market within the next five years.
BMW wants a "fully" self-driving car
BMW said that it aims to produce cars with "fully automated driving" technology.
There already exist various forms of partial automation and advanced systems like Tesla's Autopilot and GM's Super Cruise.
But BMW aims to make a vehicle which one can summon at will and which needs no intervention or attention on part of the driver to reach its destination.
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BMW to start tests this year itself
BMW announced that its early work would concentrate on a "highly automated driving" prototype which would be demonstrated in 2016 itself.
More extensive tests on the same technology across lots of vehicles have been planned for 2017.
The robot car which emerges would likely be an electric car called the i-Next.
Other cars in the i-range would include the i3 and i8.
BMW promises to share research results
In light of recent fatal Tesla crash which called into question the safety of its Autopilot feature, BMW has promised to share its research results with other car makers and electronics firms to help standardise technology and create a safer future for autonomous vehicles.
The implications of fully automated driving
If the research collaboration between BMW, Intel and Mobileye succeeds in creating a fully automated self-driving car, the implications are endless.
Such technology would enable fleets of unmanned vehicles to operate safely.
It could lead to the creation of long distance delivery services employing unmanned trucks.
Furthermore, it could stimulate novel ride-sharing services in urban areas, ushering in an unprecedented, automated future.