In a dashing move for the automotive industry, BMW announced today that it has reached an agreement with the Chinese authorities, which gave the German brand the green light to go ahead and test its autonomous tech on public roads. The announcement came two days after the BMW Group actually got the so-called Shanghai Intelligent Connected Autonomous Driving Test License.

This license is issued by the Intelligent Connected Vehicle Road Test Promotion Team – consisting of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization, Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau and Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission. It’s reportedly hard to get the go-ahead and BMW has thus become the first automaker to get it, as other car makers are struggling to get the same deal done, to start testing their cars’ systems in some of the most challenging conditions in the world.

Shanghai is an attractive, innovative city, matching perfectly with BMW Group’s vision of future mobility, thus becoming the perfect choice for the Germans to carry out road tests for the preparation of L4 Autonomous Driving R&D in China. The team BMW relocated to Shanghai for this purpose alone includes over 60 experts in Autonomous Driving. Using the license, the R&D team will gather several Petabyte of data based on actual traffic, covering its full complexity. This data will be used to train machine learning algorithms performing adequate L4 Autonomous Driving behavior.

The test sites in Shanghai currently cover a total length of about 5.6 kilometers and are planned to grow quickly over time. The test fleet is based on the latest BMW 7 Series models, starting with two operating vehicles in May and adding up to seven vehicles by December in China. “Safety first” is the primary premise for the development of Autonomous Driving at BMW Group. Until now, the accumulated mileage reaches nearly 30,000 kilometers of road test in China, and more than 200,000 kilometers of computer simulation.