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BMW and Tencent plan computing center in Tianjin for autonomous cars
Published on: 2019-07-22
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030A BMW self-driving test vehicle is seen at a showroom following an event announcing the German automaker's partnership with China's Tencent Holdings in launching a computing center for self-driving vehicles, in Beijing July 19, 2019.

BMW is speeding up its efforts to develop autonomous driving vehicles in China, its largest market worldwide, as the German premium carmaker continues to transform itself into a technology company.

After Baidu tie up BMW taps Tencent for autonomous driving in ChinaOn Friday, it announced a deal with Chinese technology firm Tencent Holdings to build a computing center that will help develop self-driving vehicles in the country.

The center, which will start operations by the end of the year, will leverage Tencent's capabilities in cloud computing and big data to develop autonomous driving technology and products adapted to Chinese road and traffic conditions, said BMW in a statement.

The two companies did not disclose the investment in the center and Reuters, citing sources familiar with the deal, said the center will be built in the city of Tianjin.

031The deal with Tencent came one week after an agreement with NavInfo, a Beijing-based high-definition mapping service provider, and another with China Unicom for 5G technology in early July.

BMW received its autonomous driving permit in China in May 2018, the first among international premium carmakers, which has since enabled it to test its fleet on public roads in Shanghai.

The carmaker said China has the most complex traffic in the world and that has made its research facilities in the country essential.

Its teams in Beijing and Shanghai have nearly 100 engineers focusing on the development and validation of automated driving functions based on typical traffic scenarios in China.

BMW is already offering Level 2 autonomous driving functions in some of its models including the all-new 3 Series and 7 Series sedans.

The Level 3, or hands-off and eyes-off functions, will come in 2021 when the carmaker starts to mass-produce the iNEXT concept vehicle.


By then, BMW said it will have collected around 5 million kilometers of real-life driving data from its test fleet vehicles, and 240 million kilometers of simulation-generated data.

It is planning to conduct Level 4 fleet tests starting from 2021 in a number of countries including China. Level 4 can enable drivers to be hands-off, eyes-off and minds-off.

033The centre that BMW and Tencent are developing is a duplication of the software development process in Munich and a “key component” for autonomous driving both in China and globally.

BMW is also introducing China-oriented connectivity features into its models.

Earlier this year, it announced the integration of Alibaba's smart voice assistant Tmall Genie into the on-board system of its vehicles.

Goller said BMW is sticking to its 2+4 strategic approach in China, which represents the two brands of BMW and MINI as well as the four fields of autonomous driving, connected vehicles, electrification and sharing services.

China is BMW's largest market worldwide. It delivered 350,070 BMW and MINI-branded vehicles in the country from January to June, up 16.8 percent year-on-year.

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