Go­ing alone

Mo­bil­eye gets deal for 8 mil­lion cars

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By STEVEN SCHEER

Mo­bil­eye, In­tel Corp.’s Jerusalem-based au­tonomous driv­ing unit, has signed a con­tract to sup­ply eight mil­lion cars at a Euro­pean au­tomaker with its self-driv­ing tech­nolo­gies.

Fi­nan­cial terms of the deal and the iden­tity of the au­tomaker were not dis­closed.

The deal, one of the largest yet for Mo­bil­eye, is a sign of how car­mak­ers and sup­pli­ers are ac­cel­er­at­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of fea­tures that au­to­mate cer­tain driv­ing tasks – such as high­way driv­ing and emer­gency brak­ing – to gen­er­ate rev­enue while tech­nol­ogy to en­able fully au­to­mated driv­ing in all con­di­tions is still years away from mass-mar­ket de­ploy­ment.

The deal for the ad­vanced driver as­sisted sys­tems will be­gin in 2021, when In­tel’s EyeQ5 chip, which is de­signed for fully au­tonomous driv­ing, is launched as an up­grade to the EyeQ4 that will be rolled out in the com­ing weeks, Erez Da­gan, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for ad­vanced de­vel­op­ment and strat­egy at Mo­bil­eye, told Reuters.

In­tel and Mo­bil­eye are com­pet­ing with sev­eral ri­val chip and ma­chine vi­sion sys­tem man­u­fac­tur­ers, in­clud­ing Nvidia Corp., to pro­vide the brains and eyes of au­to­mated cars.

The fu­ture sys­tem will be avail­able on a va­ri­ety of the au­tomaker’s car mod­els that will have par­tial au­to­ma­tion – where the car is au­to­mat­i­cally driven but the driver must stay alert – as well as mod­els in­te­grat­ing a more ad­vanced sys­tem of con­di­tional au­to­ma­tion.

Mo­bil­eye, bought by In­tel last year for $15.3 bil­lion, says there are some 27 mil­lion cars on the road from 25 au­tomak­ers that use some sort of driver as­sis­tance sys­tem and Mo­bil­eye has a mar­ket share of more than 70%.

“By the end of 2019, we ex­pect over 100,000 Level 3 cars with Mo­bil­eye in­stalled,” said Am­non Shashua, Mo­bil­eye’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

In Level 3, the car is self-driv­ing but the driver has about 10 sec­onds to take over if the sys­tem is un­able to con­tinue.

Mo­bil­eye is work­ing with a num­ber of au­tomak­ers, such as Gen­eral Mo­tors – for its Su­per Cruise sys­tem - Nis­san, Audi, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler and China’s Nio, to sup­ply its Level 3 tech­nolo­gies by next year.

At its Jerusalem head­quar­ters, Mo­bil­eye is also test­ing a more ad­vanced Level 4 tech­nol­ogy in Ford Fu­sion hy­brids with 12 small cam­eras in­stalled and four of the soon-to-be-re­leased EyeQ4 chips in the trunk. In a test wit­nessed by Reuters re­porters, these cars are able to drive on Jerusalem high­ways in mid­day traf­fic with no driver in­ter­fer­ence.

Robo-taxis

Mo­bil­eye says that while it Level 4 sys­tems will start pro­duc­tion in 2021, many of its tech­nolo­gies are relevant to cre­at­ing sys­tems that may soon be pur­chased by con­sumers.

Shashua said that based on com­mit­ments from au­tomak­ers, self-driv­ing taxis – called robo-taxis – should start hit­ting roads around 2021.

“When de­sign­ing our sys­tem we are look­ing at all what can be used to­day, in a year, in two years and then the rob­o­taxi,” Shashua said.

He noted that about that time, some of the more ex­pen­sive lux­ury cars for per­sonal use, and pos­si­bly some medium-priced ve­hi­cles, will use the same tech­nolo­gies – for an ex­tra cost of about $12,000 per car.

As a re­sult, in a few year’s time, roads will be com­prised of both hu­man driv­ers and self-driv­ing cars – which is why safety is para­mount, Shashua said. He added that while there are 40,000 fa­tal­i­ties on US roads each year, so­ci­ety won’t ac­cept that num­ber from self-driv­ing cars, although per­haps about 40.

As such, Shashua said, au­tonomous cars can­not rely on just cam­eras. To pre­vent ac­ci­dents and for the sys­tem to make the best driv­ing de­ci­sions, it needs to process data from a com­bi­na­tion of cam­eras, high-def­i­ni­tion maps, radar and laser scan­ners called li­dar, he said.

Shashua said test ve­hi­cles were made to drive like hu­mans, and in Jerusalem they were as­sertive, given the “driv­ing cul­ture is very as­sertive.”

“On one hand you want to be safe but on the other hand as­sertive,” he said, not­ing that be­ing too hes­i­tant can cause im­pa­tience from other driv­ers and lead to ac­ci­dents. “In the fu­ture, the sys­tem will ob­serve other driv­ers on the road and af­ter a cer­tain amount of time adapts to driv­ing con­di­tions... It’s not un­like a hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence.”

One is­sue in de­sign­ing self-driv­ing cars is how to de­fine what is a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion. “When you look at driv­ing laws, they are com­pre­hen­sive but not for­mally de­fined,” Shashua said, adding that may ul­ti­mately be re­solved by courts. “We would like to for­mal­ize these things in ad­vance to al­low ma­chines not to get into dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions to be­gin with.”

(Ro­nen Zvu­lun/Reuters)

A MO­BIL­EYE AU­TONOMOUS driv­ing test ve­hi­cle sits out­side the Mo­bil­eye head­quar­ters in Jerusalem.

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