Does anyone remember The Matrix Reloaded? It was nearly twenty years ago, so I don’t remember much. What I do remember was the highway scene. And I also remember all of the hype about the highway scene. They built a three-lane, 1.5-mile highway from scratch that cost $2.5 million. They used over 300 cars during filming. And now BMW is going bigger and better in Sokolov, Czech Republic for the purpose of testing!

BMW plans to open the new testing facility in Sokolov in mid-2023 and it will contain three test tracks. Its focus will be on BMW’s electrification, digitalization, and automated driving initiatives. Andreas Heb, BMW Group project manager responsible for the testing ground in Sokolov, said “with the early deployment of two track sections to prepare for official vehicle testing in Sokolov, we are now testing new assistance systems from the point of view of driver safety and advancing the further development of test scenarios. From mid-2023, the new test site in the Czech Republic will operate in addition to the BMW Group’s existing testing facilities in Aschheim near Munich, Miramas in France and Arjeplog in Sweden.”

The Sokolov facility is part of a 300-million-euro investment by BMW and will have more than 100 employees on site. One of the testing circuits will be a 3.7-mile highway with on-and-off ramps, two functional lanes, emergency stop lanes, and gantries. The tests, which include automated driving in cross traffic, emergency braking, and evasive situations, will all be controlled remotely from a central control room.

So, it looks like BMW is just a year away from another fully operational facility in Central Europe. Perhaps once they solve autonomous driving they can rent it out to film crews on the weekends.—Mike Bevels

[Photos courtesy of BMW.]

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