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April 2018

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BMW has completed a 100 years and is starting its next century by revamping the company for a driverless car future

Days before its 100th anniversary, BMW is planning to completely change up its business for a future in which cars will be driverless. The company will be joining tech giants and automakers such as Google, Tesla and China’s Baidu and it has now been made apparent that for many companies, the question will soon be not about who has a driverless vehicle but who doesn’t. It seems that to execute their vision of having the most intelligent cars in the market, the company will be building up its artificial intelligence chops.

BMW is reportedly planning to drastically overhaul the company with its research department likely to hire around half its workforce from programmers with expertise in artificial intelligence. Currently only 20% of the company’s 30 thousand workforce are software engineers but BMW plans to change that and is aiming for the 50% mark. BMW is determined to build its driverless technology in-house, instead of having to depend on someone else. It is likely, though, that the company will soon be getting in touch with new suppliers and partners both in artificial intelligence, as well as cloud computing and sensors required for driverless cars.

The transition will also mean that BMW will have to streamline its business and might license some of its less lucrative technologies to other companies, as they cut down costs associated with manufacturing and shift them into R&D. BMW will also have to work around the fact that Germany does not have the quantity of home grown talent they require for its business, with most companies in the driverless segment either working out of the US or China. BMW does have one excellent advantage; it makes great quality cards and has worldwide brand recognition. It remains to be seen whether BMW can bring its vision of engineering excellence to the realm of AI and drive itself into the future of driverless cars.