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BMW gets licence to test L4 autonomous cars in China

21st May 2018 7:00 am

German automaker is the first to obtain autonomous driving road test license in China; aims to develop a "safer, more efficient and more convenient transportation system."

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On May 14, 2018, the BMW Group officially obtained the Shanghai Intelligent Connected Autonomous Driving Test License. This license is issued by the Intelligent Connected Vehicle Road Test Promotion Team which consists of three institutions – the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization, the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau and the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission. BMW's shiny new license gives it permission to test driverless cars in China.

BMW has officially become the first international automaker to obtain the autonomous riving road test license in China, marking a big step forward on its path to autonomous driving. China is promoting autonomous driving as a part of boosting Intelligent Connected Vehicles (ICVs). Its recent 'smart city, smart China' initiative, gives the country a vital role to play in the BMW Group´s Autonomous Driving Development Program. The driving test license, in turn, will help the Group accelerate its development of autonomous driving in the Chinese automotive industry.

BMW says that it anticipated this development; and in as early as 2016, the company was the first to demonstrate L3 highly autonomous driving on a designated highway under government supervision in Chengdu. BMW has decided to focus on Shanghai to carry out road tests for the preparation of L4 autonomous driving R&D in China. The German automaker has set up a strong local team in Shanghai, which includes over 60 experts in autonomous driving.

Under the license, the R&D team aims to gather several petabytes of data based on actual China traffic and cover its full complexity. This data will then be used to train machine-learning algorithms programmed with adequate L4 autonomous driving behaviour.

The test sites in Shanghai currently cover a total length of about 5.6km and plan to grow quickly over time. The test fleet is based on the latest BMW 7 series models, starting with two operating vehicles in May and adding up to seven vehicles by December.

Until now, the BMW Group's accumulated mileage reaches nearly 30,000km of road testing in China, and more than 2,00,000km in computer simulations.

Commenting on this latest development, Dr. Martin Sautter, senior vice president, R&D centre, BMW Group, BMW China Services, said, “The BMW Group has always followed its R&D strategy ‘In China, For China’. We have developed a complete, customer-oriented and prospective R&D system through the R&D layout in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang.  Now, it is a great honour to be the first international vehicle manufacturer to obtain an autonomous road test license in China. With the highest safety standards, we will rigorously promote the local development of autonomous driving and strive to achieve a safer, more efficient and more convenient transportation system.”

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