BMW celebrated the inauguration of its largest testing facility in the world. No, it’s not a dedicated test track for future BMW M products but a 1,400-acre test site for automated driving technologies located close to the city of Sokolov in the Czech Republic. The opening ceremony for the so-called Future Mobility Development Center was attended by local politicians and by Frank Weber, BMW Group’s Board Member for Development.
The new proving grounds sits on a former mining region, which the Bavarian company wants to turn into a technology hub. More than 100 skilled workers are already employed at the site, which required an investment of around $330 million (300 million Euros). The test site provides perfect conditions for simulated and real-world automated driving testing, BMW says. The Sokolov facility joins BMW’s existing test sites in Aschheim near Munich, Miramas in France, and Arjeplog in Sweden.
Gallery: BMW Future Mobility Development Center in Sokolov
“With our new Future Mobility Development Center, we have created a one-of-a-kind test site, designed exclusively for the highly demanding testing of automated driving and parking up to Level 4,” Frank Weber commented during the event. “On 600 hectares of land, we test all possible driving conditions with maximum flexibility and tremendous efficiency: city, countryside, freeway, as well as automated parking. The special thing: We can run our test modules one after the other without stopping.”
BMW is especially proud of the fact that the new testing facility is built to the highest environmental protection and sustainability standards. The site uses green electricity and features a water management system that collects rainwater and uses it for track irrigation.
As for the company’s assisted driving technologies, last year BMW announced it will partner with Here on the development of a Level 2+ hands-free driving system. Here’s HD Live Map that will allow assisted driving in the US and Canada. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz already got approval from California and Nevada for its Level 3 ADAS, which will be available as an option on the 2024 S-Class and 2024 EQS.