According to BMW's philosophy, automated driving is a measure to reduce accidents and make driving safer in the first place. Besides outperforming humans with shorter reaction times, the "electronic co-pilot" is can relieve the driver of monotonous long-distance driving or repetitive tasks which occur during traffic congestions in cities and on highways. Now BMW has launched a joint research project in China with Baidu - the local internet Giant will provide the exact electronic maps required for automated driving. In addition it offers the cloud computing capacity to accommodate the associated data processing.
Over the next two years, BMW plans to develop prototype vehicles for use in highly automated driving trials on Chinese public roads. The traffic conditions in the huge country with its densely populated metropolitan regions of Beijing and Shanghai pose different challenges than in Europe: Whereas in Europe features like road tunnels, national borders and toll stations need to be taken into account, China's fast-expanding urban centres also confronts development engineers with challenges such as multi-level highways.
The highly automated prototypes developed with Baidu will initially operate on urban highways in Beijing and Shanghai.