BMWs to Drive Themselves During Production

The pilot is scheduled to last several months before expanding and rolling out to other manufacturing facilities

BMWs will drive themselves during production
The pilot operation is planned for several months before expanding to other production facilities.
BMW has launched a new pilot project that will autonomously show cars during production.

The goal is to improve the efficiency of manufacturing plants and distribution centers by eliminating the need for drivers at certain stages of the production process.

BMW Startup Garage – a venture client of the BMW Group – collaborated on the test with Seoul Robotics from South Korea and Embotech from Switzerland.

The Automated Driving In-Plant project – Automatisiertes Fahren im Werk in German, or AFW for short – takes place at the company’s factory in Dingolfing, southern Bavaria, Germany, and will see the 7 Series and electric i7 maneuvering areas independently.

But the technology used is not comparable to what we are used to with serial cars with autonomous operation on public roads. BMW Group project manager Sascha Andree explains: “For customers, automatic driving in a race is fundamentally different from autonomous driving. It does not use sensors in the car. In fact, the car itself is more or less blind and its handling sensors are integrated into the race route.”

AFW is based on two key technologies – sensor infrastructure that supports vehicle localization and detects potential obstacles, and trip planning software that sends controlled commands to the driverless vehicle. 7 Series and i7 via mobile communication.

The cars would first simply pass through the assembly area and then into the parking lot, ready to go by train or truck. But it is actually possible to use the technology if the cars can drive independently of the manufacturing process. Seoul Robotics provides lidar detection software that uses static tracking sensors to create a digital twin of the environment, while Embotech’s software can steer, brake, accelerate and park cars. Routes are calculated in real-time, allowing each vehicle to react independently to the surrounding environment, rather than being programmed.

The pilot project is expected to last several months and will be expanded to include other Dingolfing models before being rolled out to other BMW production sites.