And it's preaching a 'safety-first' approach

BMW Group has become the first worldwide carmaker to obtain a Shanghai Intelligent Connected Autonomous Driving Test License, allowing it to put self-driving vehicles through their paces on Chinese roads.

Although it has demonstrated Level 3 autonomous technology under closed, Government-supervised conditions on a stretch of Chengdu highway in 2016, the license opens the door for more advanced testing.

Under the new license, the company will be able to use around 5.6km of test area in Shanghai for Level 4 automated testing, although that area is expected to expand quickly.

Testing will start with two 7 Series mules, although that fleet is expected to expand to seven vehicles by December. According to BMW, the program will gather several Petabytes (1PB = 1000TB, and 1TB = 1000GB) of data – in other words, A LOT of data.

The 'local' team in Shanghai will be made up of 60 self-driving experts. The company is preaching a 'safety first' approach to development, and says it has covered 30,000km of testing on public roads and more than 200,000km in computer simulations.

"Now, it is a great honour to be the first international vehicle manufacturer to obtain an autonomous road test license in China. With the highest safety standards, we will rigorously promote the local development of Autonomous Driving and strive to achieve a safer, more efficient and more convenient transportation system," said Dr. Martin Sautter, senior vice president at BMW Group's R&D centre in China.