BMW, Tencent to open computing centre for self-driving cars in China - GulfToday

BMW, Tencent to open computing centre for self-driving cars in China


Officials of BMW and Tencent at an event to announce the partnership in Beijing on Friday. Reuters

German automaker BMW and Chinese online gaming giant Tencent Holdings are teaming up to launch a computing centre in China that will help develop self-driving cars in the world’s biggest auto market, the companies said on Friday.

The modern centre, which will start operations by the end of the year, will provide cars with data-crunching capabilities to help them drive semi-autonomously and, eventually, autonomously.

The two companies did not disclose the investment in the centre. Sources familiar with the deal said the centre would be built in the eastern city of Tianjin. The establishment of the centre “will support BMW’s autonomous driving development and innovation in China,” Jochen Goller, head of BMW’s China operations, said in a statement.

“BMW can, therefore, develop autonomous driving solutions that fit better with the specific driving conditions in China.”

BMW said the new computing centre will leverage Tencent’s cloud computing and big data, and provide the automaker with infrastructure needed to develop the autonomous cars.

The Munich-headquartered automaker says it will likely introduce semi-autonomous, or L3 classification, cars in China in 2021 which would need massive computing power to analyse real-time flow of digital information on road and traffic conditions.

Driverless cars need sophisticated data-crunching capabilities as they rely on so-called artificial-intelligence, or neuro-network technology, to help them “learn” from experience and could eventually drive themselves without human intervention. BMW’s planned Chinese computing center follows the opening earlier this year of a similar computing center in Munich.

Meanwhile, BMW has named Oliver Zipse as its new CEO, hoping the “decisive” company lifer will help the automaker regain its edge in electric cars and win back the premium market lead lost to Mercedes-Benz under his consensus-seeking predecessor.

Zipse, 55, joined BMW as a trainee in 1991 and served as head of brand and product strategies and boss of BMW’s Oxford plant in England before becoming board member for production.

The company said he would become chief executive on Aug.16, taking the helm during a major industry shift towards electric and self-driving cars and amid new competition from technology giants. BMW shares were up 1.4 percent at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, Germany.

“With Oliver Zipse, a decisive strategic and analytical leader will assume the Chair of the Board of Management of BMW. He will provide the BMW Group with fresh momentum in shaping the mobility of the future,” said Nobert Reithofer, chairman of BMW’s supervisory board.


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