In a further step toward digital transformation of the auto industry and the development of the software-defined vehicle (SDV), Amazon Web Services (AWS) is getting in the electric car’s front seat via an accelerated collaboration with German car maker BMW. The move comes as BMW seeks to re-invent itself to develop its next generation of electric vehicles.
AWS will be the preferred cloud provider for BMW’s global automated driving platform. AWS services for BMW include generative AI, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and storage capabilities. BMW “Neue Klasse” EV is scheduled to launch in 2025 and will showcase new features for its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). The BMW initiative comes as German marques face increasing competition from Chinese EV manufacturers. AWS’s relationship with BMW dates to 2015.
The “Neue Klasse” was unveiled this week at the IAA Mobility 2023 International Motor Show in Munich, BMW’s home turf. Human/car interaction is largely done via multifunction buttons on the steering wheel, a central display and a technology called Panoramic Vision that projects information across the lower width of the windshield, complementing a heads-up display. Drivers will be able to move information on the central display onto the windshield with a gesture. A voice-controlled digital assistant adds another layer of options. BMW says data from the car and from the cloud will allow the driving experience to be more closely tailored to driving situations and individual preferences. Other multi-function controls are on the steering wheel which has been flattened at the top and bottom, presumably to make Panoramic Vision easier to see.
“This is just the beginning of a new era of highly automated driving, fueled by innovations in technology and engineering,” says Dr. Nicolai Martin, senior vice president of driving experience at BMW Group. “We’re tapping into AWS’s ability to help empower the next generation of BMW’s automated driving and parking functions.”
Placing BMW’s driving platform in the cloud helps breakdown development silos within vehicle software teams and fosters greater global collaboration with suppliers. Among them is Qualcomm which is supplying its open and modular Snapdragon Ride platform that includes an integrated Ride Vision software stack that provides 360-degree perception for the vehicle. Supplier interaction with BMW will be done via a self-service portal that can be navigated with just a few clicks.
AWS will help BMW manage the massive data flow associated with new vehicles. For example, AWS provides the framework needed to process, catalog and store millions of miles of real-time driving data. Engineers and data specialists can then search, identify and visualize relevant driving scenes to develop and train models using Amazon Sagemaker for the building, training and deployment of machine learning modules in the cloud and the edge. Large scale simulations for verification will ensure safety and shorten time to market.
“We already have about 20 million extensively connected vehicles on the road today,” notes Nicolai Kramer, vice president vehicle connectivity platforms for BMW. “When the “Neue Klasse” is launched, our offboard cloud platform, powered by AWS, will process roughly triple the volume of vehicle data compared to the current generation of BMW models.” The current fleet sends around ten billion enquiries to BMW’s backend IT infrastructure per day.
Other features that AWS will help enable include lane departure assist, automated lane change and hands-free driving. BMW retains exclusive control of all data, including that generated by customers. The BMW/AWS partnership reflects the increasingly rapid transformation of automobiles from electro-mechanical machines to software-driven electronic vehicles using technologies like over-the-air (OTA) links that update firmware, software and unlock premium vehicle features.
Beneath the technology lies a very human subtext. “Automated driving is about more than just convenience; it’s also aimed at providing driver assistance technology that helps prevent injuries and saves lives,” says Wendy Bauer, general manager of automotive and manufacturing at AWS. “Implementing these systems on the BMW Group’s global scale requires an approach that can process and analyze cast amounts of data, as well as learn and innovate, so automakers can develop safer and more reliable automated and ADAS systems.”