bmw daimler
The CEO of German auto giant Daimler AG Dieter Zetsche (L) and CEO of German carmaker BMW Harald Krueger sit side by side during the presentation of the merger of their car sharing activities on February 22, 2019 in Berlin. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

German automotive behemoths, the BMW Group and Daimler AG, will work together to develop a range of automated driving or self-driving technologies.

The initial focus of the newest partnership in the motor vehicle industry will be to develop “next-generation technologies” for automated driving on highways, driver assistance systems and automated parking features.

BMW and Daimler said they’re planning a "long-term strategic cooperation" covering autonomous technologies. They also said they’re aiming to make “next-level technologies widely available” by the middle of the 2020s.

"Instead of individual, stand-alone solutions, we want to develop a reliable overall system that offers noticeable added value for customers," said Ola Källenius, Daimler's board member for research and development.

“Working with the right partners, we want to make significant advances in enhancing the performance of this technology and bring it safely on the road."

On the other hand, Klaus Fröhlich, a BMW board member, said that at the BMW Group, long-term partnerships within a flexible, scalable, non-exclusive platform are fundamental to advancing the industrialization of autonomous driving.

"Combining the key expertise of our two companies will boost our innovative strength and speed up the spread of this technology."

BMW and Daimler said their collaboration will focus on Levels 3 and 4 of driving automation as defined by SAE International. There are five “levels” of driving automation, as set out by SAE International, a global association of over 128,000 engineers.

In Level 3, the driver is still present and will intervene if necessary, but he isn’t required to monitor the situation as he would in a manned vehicle. Level 4 means "fully autonomous." These vehicles are "designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip."

BMW and Daimler already have a joint venture to collaborate on "mobility services," such as car sharing and ride-hailing services.

Daimler and supplier Bosch have partnered to offer self-driving car rides in Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicles in San Jose, California by the second half of 2019. At first, Daimler and Bosch will focus on automated driving on highways and advanced parking features.