Tencent, BMW in self-driving car deal

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Tencent has partnered with automaker BMW to develop self-driving cars.

The companies have agreed to work together on building the BMW Group China High Performance D3 platform for automated driving.

The BMW Group will use the platform to develop automated driving technologies and products that suit Chinese traffic conditions and meet local customer demands.

South African media and e-commerce group Naspers purchased 46.5% of Chinese Internet company Tencent from early investors, including PCCW and IDG Capital Partners (then a start-up), in 2001.

The investment paid off for Naspers, boosting the company’s stock price over time, making it the most valuable publicly traded business in Africa by 2017. It sold a part of its stake in March 2018, raising $10 billion. At that time, its initial investment of $32 million had ballooned to a stake worth over $175 billion.

Alejandro Vukotich, BMW’s senior VP for automated driving, was at the ceremony on Friday. “Our ultimate goal is to make the car safer than a human driver through greater automation. Safety is paramount to us. We, therefore, need to process a lot of data for simulation, testing and validation. The launch of the D3 – Data-Driven Development – platform in China is the next big step for us along this path.”

“China is at the forefront of automated driving development, and we aim to play a pioneering role in this area,” said Jochen Goller, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China.

“The collaboration between BMW Group and Tencent will set the benchmark for cross-industry co-operation. The BMW Group China High Performance D3 platform will allow us to develop autonomous driving solutions that represent a better fit for the specific driving scenarios in China.”

“Tencent is committed to assisting automotive companies in digital transformation,” added Dowson Tong, president of Tencent’s cloud and smart industry.

“The collaboration between Tencent and BMW Group has deepened over the past year or so, which proves BMW’s recognition of Tencent’s technical strength in the fields of cloud computing, big data, security and AI. We hope that with the continuous deepening of co-operation between the two parties, we can create a new model and a new benchmark for co-operation between Chinese technology companies and international automotive companies. We also look forward to providing more assistance to the localisation of international first-class automotive companies in China.”

The BMW Group China High Performance D3 platform should be set up and ready to begin operations by the end of this year, the companies say.

The “D3” in the new IT platform’s name stands for Data-Driven Development, which forms the basis for the development of highly (Level 3) and fully (Level 4) automated driving functions.

Before the BMW Group commences series production of Level 3 vehicles in 2021, the platform will be used mainly for safety validation of Level 3 and the early-stage study of Level 4 technologies.

After 2021, the platform will assist both the post-production development of Level 3 models and research into Level 4 technologies.

Tencent will provide IT architecture, tools and platforms across the field of automated driving research and development.

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