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BMW’s first self-driving car, “i NEXT,” coming in 2021

by Jacob Kleinman | May 13, 2016May 13, 2016 11:40 am PST

BMW is gearing up for a self-driving vehicle, though it won’t actually arrive for at least a few more years. BMW CEO Harald Krueger broke the news during a recent shareholders meeting. Krueger promised a futuristic vehicle to compete with Tesla, Google and whatever Apple is building.

“[The BMW i8 Roadster] 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,” Krueger said.

That’s all we’re getting for now, but BMW teased some ideas for future designs with its recent Vision Next 100 program. The images (which you can see above) include some interesting features like a recycled carbon body, special reflective side windows to reduce heat from the sun, and a unique wheel design. BMW could use data from HERE Maps to power its self-driving technology. The German-carmaker acquired the mapping service from Nokia last year as part of a joint deal with Audi and Mercedes.

2021 isn’t a long time to wait in the grand scheme of things, but by then BMW will likely be competing with tech giants like Google and Apple, along with self-driving cars from its traditional rivals. In the short term, the German firm is set to ship a refreshed BMW i3 later this year with an upgraded version of its BMW i8 hybrid coming in 2017.

BMW CNET BMW

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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