BMW wants to have its first fully driverless vehicle on the roads within five years, the German auto manufacturer's CEO Harald Krueger has revealed.
Krueger voiced his ambition for BMW to launch its first autonomous vehicle at the company's annual shareholder meeting in Munich. BMW is currently focusing very much on its 'i' electric car range and the Krueger sees the move into fully autonomous vehicles as a natural extension of this strategy.
"In 2018, we will launch a BMW i8 Roadster. This will be followed in 2021 by the BMW i Next, our new innovation driver, with autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road," he told shareholders.
"Our goal is already clearly-defined - to be number one in autonomous driving", he said, arguing that "vehicle safety and the security of our customers' personal data" is a "top priority" for BMW and "something that distinguishes us from other providers."
Until recently, BMW's parent company Daimler was reportedly in talks with Apple about a collaborative project on automonous vehicles, but the German firm is said to have walked away from a deal after being unable to come to terms with who will own data received from customers' driving.
The race to develop driverless cars is getting increasingly competitive, with a number of high profile automotive manufacturers working on projects in this area. Volvo has already set out plans to test driverless vehicles on the streets of London from next year, while Toyota recently opened a research institute with a focus on "fully autonomous" driving.
READ MORE ON THE FUTURE OF AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES