Former Audi automated driving head Alejandro Vukotich will take over as head of BMW Group’s driver assistance and autonomous driving development department on 1 January, replacing the retiring Elmar Frickenstein, who has run the unit since its creation in May 2016.

Between 2006 and 2016, Frickenstein headed the electrics, electronics and driver environment department that was the precursor to the unit. After a 30-year career at BMW, he will retire on 31 March 2019 after a three-month handover phase.

Vukotich has 19 years of experience in the field of active safety, driver assistance and autonomous driving in the German automotive industry, BMW said, without elaborating.

LinkedIn shows that he had been on ‘garden leave – preparing for new challenges’ and was previously VP development automated driving at Audi from January 2017-March 2018.

Development is largely carried out at the automaker’s autonomous driving campus in Unterschleissheim near Munich, which was officially opened in April 2018. There are currently around 1,300 specialists there from BMW and key partners such as FCA, Intel and Mobileye, who are working on the development of a technology stack for highly and fully automated Level 2, 3, 4 and 5 driving.

The iNext will be the first model equipped with a Level 3 system for highly automated driving when it is launched in 2021.