BMW says it will deploy 40 self-driving vehicles for tests in the United States and Europe.

The German auto group made the announcement at CES in Las Vegas jointly with US computer chip giant Intel and Israeli-based auto technology firm Mobileye.

"Making autonomous driving a reality for our customers is the shared ambition behind our cooperation with Intel and Mobileye," said BMW board member Klaus Froehlich.

He added that the tests would be a major step toward achieving a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021.

"This partnership has all of the skills and talent necessary to overcome the enormous technological challenges ahead and commercialize self-driving vehicles.”

“Therefore, we are already thinking in terms of scalability and welcome other companies -- manufacturers, suppliers or technology companies - to participate and contribute to our autonomous platform."

The companies said they plan to begin testing by the end of this year, joining autonomous vehicles from Google's Waymo, Uber and others being used in real-traffic situations.

BMW Group will be responsible for driving control, safety and the production of the car platform.

Intel will offer its Intel Go computing platform that uses a variety of sensors and other data to power the brains of the car.

Mobileye will be using its proprietary EyeQ5 computer vision processor which gets input from the 360-degree surround view sensors as well as localization.

"From an industry perspective, we are already seeing savings and speed in development by sharing development costs and in pooling resources to develop a complete autonomous platform," Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich said.

"That's why this partnership is breaking new ground.  We have established a dedicated team with clear, shared goals and a culture of innovation and agility and accountability."

Nearly all the major global automakers are involved in testing or autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles, with some expecting full autonomy within a few years.