The BMW live event began a 10 a.m. EST / 7 a.m. PST and ended at 10:38 a.m. EST / 7:39 a.m. PST. after a brief Q&A session. The event video should replay at this time.
All three participants spoke briefly as to what they were bringing to the BMW autonomous vehicle open platform. It was made clear during the event that it's crucial to create a standard platform for others to join and participate in for this leap in vehicle technology to be a success. Standardization will expedite the regulatory process for such a platform to thrive. No other partners were announced at this event and one has to wonder if Apple, Google and Tesla will joint this standard or create a unique U.S. platform. I would think the latter could emerge at some future time.
I think even Apple, who loves to be a loner at times, should embrace an open platform as the complexity of one company taking on autonomous vehicles is risky. Reuters published a report today titled "U.S. Opens Investigation in Tesla after Fatal Crash in Autopilot mode."
The report noted that "A fatal accident in which the driver of a Tesla Motors Model S car operating in Autopilot mode was killed in a collision with a truck has prompted an investigation by federal highway safety regulators, the U.S. government and Tesla disclosed on Thursday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is investigating 25,000 Model S sedans that are equipped with the Autopilot system."
This story and tragedy was the elephant in the room today during the event. BMW's representative was a little snarky, unfortunately, and stated that this is why BMW won't have their new cars ready until 2021 because certain aspects of the technology aren't ready today. He further noted that "serious production" of such a car is not ready. I'm sure that those at Tesla didn't appreciate that commentary at this time. It was competitor sticking it to another.
The BMW representative said that the company was transitioning into a technology company. That was an interesting tidbit to be aware of going forward.
Intel's CEO spoke about how open standards allowed the PC revolution to prosper and that it would be required for autonomous vehicles to advance to market on time. Intel's press release on the event could be found here.
During the Event BMW showed a video of how they envisioned autonomous vehicles being used and it was enlightening even in its brevity. One example was a driver on a busy multi-lane intercity roadway receiving a phone call that turned into a brief video conferencing session that required the drivers attention. The driver slid a button on the steering wheel, similar to a cruise control button, and the car went into autonomous mode while he participated in a video conference from his pop-up display on the dash.
The second feature was a cool one. The driver is going to his office, so the car drops him off and says I'll pick you up after work and drove off. No explanation as to whether the car parked itself in the office building or went home. But the concept was interesting.
Mobileye made it clear that highway driving would be the one area where autonomous driving would be at level 5, the highest level of availability. Within cities it will likely be restricted to specific roads or areas of a city initially. Because of the Tesla incident, Mobileye was the most serious of the partners during the event because Tesla's autonomous autopilot mode uses Mobileye technology.
At one point Mobileye's representative was very stern basically saying that the driver must always be alert to what's happening on the road. So what's the use of the autonomous feature if you need to always be alert? That's the part of the technology I t don't really understand.
What are your thoughts on autonomous vehicles in general or anything that was announced at this event today?