PARIS – Continental and BMW are working together to develop an autonomous car that can travel on freeways.

Through the partnership, which will last two years,  engineers from the two companies expect to establish the standard for autonomous cars that could drive themselves on limited-access highways by about 2020.

 “Driving cannot be automated overnight,” says Elmar Degenhart, chairman of the executive board of Continental. “It is much more a gradual process, stretching out over a period of over 10 years.”

The German auto maker and supplier intend to build several prototypes to analyze the requirements of freeway driving, including interchanges, toll gates and work zones. Tests will be made on German autobahns as well as freeways in other European countries.

At the Detroit auto show in January, Degenhart said the basic technologies required already are developed, including “long- and short-range radar sensors, stereo and monochromatic camera systems and sensor fusion.”

By 2016, Continental’s customers will begin using low-speed autonomous driving in traffic jams, for instance, but that full high-speed automatic driving could be as far away as 2025, he says.

To read more about the prototype car Continental introduced in Nevada, read "Continental-BMW Team to Develop Autonomous Cars for Freeways” in WardsAuto.