The BMW Group announced Tuesday the launch of the pilot project Automated Driving In-Plant in collaboration with two startups to enhance the “efficiency of new-vehicle logistics in plants and distribution centers”. The pilot project will run “for several months” and in the next phase, it will be rolled out further, initially on additional models at Plant Dingolfing and later in other plants as well.
In the first phase of the project, the vehicles will only move through the assembly area and then to logistics. Fresh off the production line, they will drive themselves to a parking area, ready for their onward journey by train or truck.
The technology will use a sensor infrastructure to “support vehicle localization and detect obstacles in the plant environment” and also a drive-planning software that “transmits controlled commands to the driverless vehicles via mobile communications”, the automaker explained.
“Automated driving within the plant is fundamentally different from autonomous driving for customers. It doesn’t use sensors in the vehicle. In fact, the car itself is more or less blind and the sensors for manoeuvring them are integrated along the route through the plant,” explains BMW Group project manager Sascha Andree.
Seoul Robotics’s lidar detection software uses static monitoring sensors to create a digital twin of the environment, including object classification and vehicle localisation, while Embotech’s drive-planning software steers, brakes, accelerates, and parks the driverless vehicles. Routes are calculated in real-time, and rather than needing to be trained or programmed for the current situation, each car is able to respond independently to its surroundings.
“This collaboration, with two young startups and an OEM like the BMW Group working together on a single project, is probably the first of its kind,” says HanBin Lee, CEO of Seoul Robotics. It was made possible by the BMW Group’s venture client unit, the BMW Startup Garage. Having discovered Seoul Robotics as a potentially interesting supplier of technologies, the BMW Startup Garage initiated the first proof of concept project, with Sasche Andree and team. After a product demonstration, Embotech was welcomed on board as well. “Without the BMW Startup Garage, we would never have been able to evaluate and test our solution,” says Alexander Domahidi, co-founder and CTO of Embotech.
The BMW Startup Garage has successfully carried out more than 150 pilot projects with leading startups with this approach, with a cumulative investment volume of more than US$ 4.5 billion.
In early May, BMW announced the extension of the partnership with Ansys to co-develop a simulation toolchain for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and automated/ autonomous driving.
“Achieving level 3 autonomy is a key differentiator for us, and an opportunity to demonstrate our high level of technical innovation in this area,” said Nicolai Martin, Senior Vice President, Driving Experience at the BMW Group.
Through this collaboration, the BMW Group is leveraging Ansys’ capabilities to be one of the first automotive manufacturers to offer Level 3 (L3) highly automated driving to consumers. The collaboration is key to quickly addressing ADAS and autonomous vehicle (AV) system reliability to significantly speed time to market, BMW stated.