The companies made the announcement on Thursday (Feb. 28), and said they would zero in on development of “next-generation technologies” like cars without drivers operating on highways, parking features and assistance systems for drivers.
The companies said they were targeting Levels 3 and 4 of SAE International’s levels of driving automation. Level 3 automation, the lowest tier, can be called an automated driving system as opposed to a manual; Level 4 requires no human interaction, although there could be an override switch.
Daimler and BMW said the partnership is a “long-term, strategic cooperation.” They are aiming to make the new technologies available by the mid-2020s.
"Instead of individual, standalone solutions, we want to develop a reliable overall system that offers noticeable added value for customers," said Ola Källenius, Daimler's board member for research and development, in a statement. "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."
Klaus Fröhlich, a BMW board member, said the move will strengthen the position of both companies. "At the BMW Group, long-term partnerships within a flexible, scalable, non-exclusive platform are fundamental to advancing the industrialization of autonomous driving," Fröhlich said. "Combining the key expertise of our two companies will boost our innovative strength and speed up the spread of this technology."
The two companies also recently announced plans to invest about $1.1 billion to create five new mobility ventures: Reach Now, Charge Now, Free Now, Park Now and Share Now.
"Our mobility services have developed a strong customer base, and we are now taking the next strategic step," said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG. "We are pooling the strength and expertise of 14 successful brands and investing more than 1 billion euro to establish a new player in the fast-growing market for urban mobility."