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BMW and Daimler Join Forces for Self-Driving Technology

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As part of a new billion-euro mobility partnership, Daimler and the BMW Group are teaming up to take self-driving AI to the next level. The two giants plan on developing next-generation technologies focused on highway driving, driver assistance, and parking features.

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So what does “Next-Generation” really mean?

While promises of “Next-Generation” technology sound like a bunch of marketing buzzwords, the term has some meaning in the context of self-driving cars.

Self-driving tech is classified at levels 0-5, with Level 5 being fully autonomous. A Level 0 car has no AI input — a human is responsible for all of the braking, steering, accelerating, and traffic negotiation. Older cars and budget-friendly models tend to fall into this category. Many modern cars have Level 1 and 2 technologies, otherwise known as Driver Assistance features. At level 1, the car can alter its speed or course slightly, like with adaptive cruise control systems. Level 2 tech allows the vehicle to steer, accelerate, and brake in certain circumstances.

The road ahead

BMW and Daimler’s next-generation technology would be Level 3 and Level 4. At these levels, cars can drive themselves, given the right circumstances. A Level 3 car can mostly manage itself, only prompting the driver to take over when things get tough. Similarly, a Level 4 car can drive itself without oversight, but only under select conditions. For instance, the car might be allowed to drive itself, but only within certain geographical boundaries.

BMW and Daimler say they’re in it for the long haul, viewing their collaboration as a long-term, strategic initiative. And we’ll certainly have to exercise patience, too — they’re hoping to make these technologies widely available by the middle of 2020.

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Sources: Car and Driver, CNBC