Intel has announced that its joint venture with BMW to build "highly automated" vehicles is finally set to begin testing. The announcement came during a special one-day workshop at their Silicon Valley Center For Autonomous Driving in San Jose, California. These specialized vehicles are not fully autonomous, but do rely on an array of sensors made by Intel-owned Mobileye to keep an eye on its surroundings and offer advanced automation and driver assistance features. Kathy Winter, vice president of Intel's autonomous driving operations, took the stage to make the announcement, and to show off a BMW 7 Series car with the features, the first of a planned production run of 40. All of them should be on the road by the end of this year.
BMW struck a deal with Intel and Mobileye back in July of last year to produce the specialized vehicles, and Intel later bought up Mobileye. BMW, for its part, will be featuring the technology in its future vehicles, pending successful tests with these first 40 specially made models. The magic will start happening at the same center where Intel held the workshop, but may eventually expand. The cars use Mobileye's sensors alongside specially made Intel silicon and 5G connections, all tightly integrated with the vehicle thanks to BMW's help in designing the units.
The workshop where the units were announced was an interesting one. Ericsson's technology was on hand to help provide the 5G networking for the cars on show to transmit and receive data with, while attendees were given Microsoft HoloLens units to watch the data flow in real time as the cars went along. Intel bigwigs personally taught courses to interested attendees on the technologies behind what was being shown, and how it all worked. Multiple personalities involved in Intel's autonomous driving efforts took the stage to deliver speeches about how it all works, and what Intel's future plans are with the initiative. Through the development of in-house hardware and software, Intel hopes to build out a framework for self-driving vehicles and an AI to go with it, then open those up to be used by partners.