This could change the world as we know it.
The main difference between an automaker like Tesla and an automaking veteran like BMW is that Elon Musk's company goes about things in a very Silicon Valley way. Instead of experimenting with its technology behind the scenes and debuting breakthrough inventions as if Houdini was running the show, Tesla likes to actively engage its customers in the experiment. By the looks of things, Tesla seems like the automaker that is closest to having a fully autonomous vehicle available for purchase.
That's because its semi-autonomous Autopilot mode is already available to those who can afford it, which is not the case for most automakers. Even those with semi-autonomous features are still less sophisticated than Autopilot. But that doesn't mean that Bavaria hasn't been hard at work on its own fully autonomous vehicle. Instead, BMW has been making its technological breakthroughs behind the scenes. According to a recent announcement it is working on the same timeline as Tesla for a fully autonomous vehicle. At a press conference in Munich, BMW just announced that this car will hit the market by 2021. What's more is that the automaker is collaborating with tech companies Intel and Mobileye to build the car.
Like Tesla does with its technology, the resulting autonomous platform will be open, meaning that it will be shared with other manufacturers and developers. Tesla already uses driver assistance technology from Mobileye, meaning that BMW's collaborator has already proven itself to consumers to a degree. However, one main contrast from the current technology, aside from the fact that it will be able to drive on city streets and not just highways, is that BMW wants its autonomous car to be fully operational whether or not it has a driver inside. This means that the car could be called to come pick up its owner or be used by rideshare companies to exchange automobile ownership for subscription-based services. What a time to be alive.