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Intel's Mobileye Inks Deal to Supply 8 Million Cars with Self-Driving Tech

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【Summary】Mobileye, the Israel-based autonomous driving unit that Intel purchased for $15.3 billion in 2017, has signed a contract to supply eight million cars at a European automaker with its computer vision-based, self-driving technology.

Eric Walz    May 17, 2018 2:09 PM PT
Intel's Mobileye Inks Deal to Supply 8 Million Cars with Self-Driving Tech
author: Eric Walz   

JERUSALEM -- Mobileye, the Israel-based autonomous driving unit that Intel purchased for $15.3 billion in 2017, has signed a contract to supply eight million cars at a European automaker with its computer vision-based, self-driving technology, a company official told Reuters.

The identity of the automaker and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal is one of the largest yet for Mobileye and another example of partnerships forming between tech companies and automakers that are looking to are accelerating the introduction autonomous driving features, including automated highway driving. Automakers alone have generally lagged behind developing these new technologies.

The deal for Mobileye to supply the advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) will begin in 2021, when Intel's proprietary EyeQ5 chip, which is designed for fully autonomous driving, is released as an upgrade to the current EyeQ4 chip. The new chip will be made available in the next few weeks, said Erez Dagan, senior vice president for advanced development and strategy at Mobileye.

Intel and Mobileye are competing with several rival chip and machine vision system manufacturers, including Nvidia, to provide the hardware powering the brains and eyes of self-driving cars.

Mobileye 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 percent.

"By the end of 2019, we expect over 100,000 Level 3 cars with Mobileye installed," Amnon Shashua, Mobileye's chief executive, said to Reuters.

The future system will be available on a variety of the automaker's car models that will have partial autonomy, meaning the car is automatically driven but the driver must stay alert and be ready to take control if necessary, as well as models with more advanced levels of autonomy.

According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), level 3 autonomy is defined as a system that can safely control all aspects of driving in a mapped environment. Although human drivers still needed to monitoring and manage sudden changes in road environments or unforeseen scenarios, such as an accident ahead.

Mobileye is working with a number of automakers, including General Motors' Super Cruise system available on the new Cadillac CT6. The company is also working with Audi, BMW, Honda and Fiat Chrysler to supply its Level 3 technologies by next year.

To date, no level 3 cars are being sold to consumers, but that may change as a result of this new partnership.

Mobileye is also testing a more advanced Level 4 technology in hybrid Ford Fusion sedans using twelve small cameras and four EyeQ5 chips in the trunk.

In a test witnessed by Reuters reporters, these cars are able to drive on busy Jerusalem highways in midday traffic with no driver interference.

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.

Autonomous ride-hailing vehicles, often referred to as robo-taxis, might start operating around 2021. Alphabet's self-driving arm Waymo plans to begin a commercial self-driving ride-hailing service later this year in Arizona.

"When designing our system we are looking at all what can be used today, in a year, in two years and then the robo-taxi," Shashua told Reuters.

In addition to cameras, future autonomous vehicles will rely in AI and machine learning and sensor fusion to navigate. Shashua said that for autonomous cars to make the best driving decisions, they will need to process data from a combination of cameras, high-definition maps, radar and lidar.

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