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It appears that the mobility collaboration between the BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler was only the tip of the iceberg, as the two former arch rivals are also set to join forces when it comes to developing autonomous vehicles. The two signed a Memorandum of Understanding on what they see as a long-term strategic cooperation to make self-driving cars widely available by the middle of the next decade.

Both companies will initially be focused on developing next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems, highway autonomous driving and parking features up the SAE’s Level 4 standard. They will also discuss the possibility of extending that partnership to include higher levels of autonomy covering urban areas. Existing collaborations and development of current-generation technologies will continue as before.

It is claimed that the partnership, which is aimed at delivering a scalable architecture covering several stages of autonomy, will leverage on the skills and experience of these partners and both speed up and streamline the development of future technologies. This will shorten the time to market and make it quicker to innovate, vital for the companies’ shared goal of being the leader in this field.

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“Autonomous driving is one of the most revolutionary trends for us at the moment, and the entire Daimler Group is working very hard on it,” said Daimler’s board member for research and development Ola Källenius. “Instead of individual, standalone solutions, we want to develop a reliable overall system that offers noticeable added value for customers. Working with the right partners, we want to make significant advances in enhancing the performance of this technology and bring it safely on the road.”

Board member for development at BMW, Klaus Fröhlich, added: “At the BMW Group, long-term partnerships within a flexible, scalable, non-exclusive platform are fundamental to advancing the industrialisation of autonomous driving. Combining the key expertise of our two companies will boost our innovative strength and speed up the spread of this technology.”

The companies said that the safety of vehicle occupants and other road users is of their utmost importance – hence the reliability of the systems being paramount to the collaboration. Both BMW Group and Daimler will explore additional partnerships with other technology companies and automotive manufacturers that could “contribute to the success of the platform.”

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