United we drive: the big brand mashup
Technology and Business
How automotive and tech brands are partnering up to be the first to make driverless innovation possible
Making a driverless future possible is less of a race to the finishing line, with each brand running for themselves, and more of a relay with rival brands running and winning together.
To put it mildly, establishing a driverless future is a big task, and not just in terms of the technology required. In fact, some might say that's the straightforward bit.
Even if the driverless solution had been found, tested, perfected and established, that is still only part of the journey. There are still risks to be mitigated, standards to be set, an enormous amount of regulation to create, and legislation to write.
Driverless could possibly be the biggest revolution in transport since the car itself became a consumable product. And that requires a full overhaul of how we use roads – much like it did when cars replaced horses and carts. It's a task that's bigger than just one brand – and the brands know it. So, they're taking action, together.
Last month, Daimler – aka Mercedes Benz – and BMW announced they had teamed up to tackle the many driverless hurdles collaboratively in a bid to set the benchmarks. They will be working together to cut costs and save resources, with the long term aim of setting the industry standards that will shape future regulation for all driverless cars.
When speaking to Insurance Journal, Klaus Froehlich, a BMW board member, said:
"It is a chicken and egg situation. Somebody has to standardise the technology and regulation will follow."
They are moving quickly to establish this technology first. Over the next four months BMW and Daimler will form committees of experts who will collaborate to choose suppliers. They will then share these resources and their expertise to develop the next generation of advanced driverless systems together.
When speaking to Insurance Journal, Ola Kaellenius, a Daimler board member, said:
“We should not invent this complicated wheel twice. On the path to setting these standards, it makes sense to share some of these investments.”
And the partnership doesn't stop with BMW and Daimler, either. Both have expressed their excitement at the possibility of bringing Fiat Chrysler, who are already a partner of BMW, into the mix in the future – once the standards have been set. Something Fiat Chrysler have described as a "welcome opportunity".
This BMW/Daimler mashup surfaced not long after Volkswagen and Microsoft had announced a similar strategic partnership in order to set the global benchmark for the 'connected car'. It will utilise a cloud-based 'digital ecosystem' and include navigation and communication features, among other things. These are systems that could one day be utilised in driverless vehicles, and will be particularly useful in the event of driverless fleets - a topic that will be discussed by 2025AD at a later date.
The idea of 'rival' brands, such as BMW and Mercedes Benz, working together rather than against each other may seem a little odd to some. The automotive industry is traditionally competitive after all. But the times are changing, and mashups like this are likely to become increasingly commonplace as he driverless future grows closer.
There are very good reasons for this. Driverless is not only a big and complex task, it is also very expensive. And, unlike other innovative investments the brands might make in themselves, it relies very heavily on supporting infrastructure before it can be a 'workable' – and therefore profitable – venture.
Therefore, it makes sense that the risk – both financial and regulatory – is shared across multiple brands. Mutual burden, for mutual benefit.
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