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As autonomous driving technology is bringing up reformation of traditional automotive industry, BMW is actively adopting its innovation strategies. Opportunities go together with significant challenges, “The complexity of Chinese road condition is much higher than that of western countries, which requires designated solutions.” Peter Riedl said during an interview at TechCrunch Shenzhen 2019, Riedl heads up the Tech Office China under the BMW China R&D umbrella, which is the biggest R&D footprint outside Germany. Besides, he also mentioned other influence factors such as traffic laws applied by different regions, thorough communications and understanding are certainly needed.

BMW R&D Centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang structured the biggest research network outside of Germany, BMW’s headquarter. These R&D centers support cutting-edge topics like Electric Vehicle, Autonomous Driving, Connected Cars, etc. BMW Group stepped into Autonomous Driving R&D in the year of 2006. Currently, over one hundred tech experts in Beijing and Shanghai are striving together with their counterparts in BMW HQ and other European R&D teams to guarantee 7/24 efforts  on this topic.

BMW Group has become the first foreign OEM to be awarded the license by the Shanghai Government to test autonomous driving cars, which could be spotted in Shanghai International Automobile City. And to fasten the development of autonomous driving technology, BMW works closely with Chinese technology companies. In July, 2019, BMW announced its partnership with ChinaUnicom, Tencent and NavInfo (a leading digital map solution provider).

Except for co-operation with tech giants, BMW Group never stopped seeking the rising stars. Starting from 2015, BMW Group set up the BMW Startup Garage program, which is the venture client unit within BMW to provide startups a gateway into the multi-trillion dollar automotive industry. The BMW Startup Garage looks to become the early adopting venture client of top startups that can make a difference to innovation at the BMW Group. There are now more than 60 startups having become the alumnus of this program with their promising projects.

“The borderline between technology startups and automotive enterprises is blurring.” Said Riedl. He mentioned some of the cases he worked on with tech startups to TechNode reporter, for example the experiment of long-distance remote control under 5G networks with AI technologies.

“China market has always been highly-valued by BMW Group as the biggest single market for us and with its leading position now regarding autonomous driving technologies.” Based on a market forecast research conducted by IHS Markit, China would contribute over 14 million sales volume of autonomous driving cars by 2040, which is about 44% of global market share. China is highly possible to become the biggest market for autonomous driving cars.

“BMW Group always has continued and will continue expand China market and adapt its open innovation strategy here as we always did.”

Liqiao is a visual reporting intern. A multimedia design student studying at Monash University, she is interested in telling good stories and creating awesome shots.

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.

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