Mobileye's Autonomous Vehicle Runs Red Light in Demonstration

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【Summary】The Intel-owned company blamed the incident on a television crew’s cameras, as they reportedly created electromagnetic interference.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 26, 2018 7:45 PM PT
Mobileye's Autonomous Vehicle Runs Red Light in Demonstration

When Intel bought Mobileye for roughly $15 billion last year, it was one of the largest acquisitions that was focused solely on making autonomous vehicles. The partnership quickly got to work, coming out with a fleet of self-driving vehicles with Level 4 autonomy before the end of 2017 to begin testing in the U.S. 

Things have progressed quickly, as Mobileye announced that it had recently signed a contract to supply an unnamed European automaker with 8 million vehicles that were fitted with its driverless tech. With Mobileye and Intel testing vehicles last year and now signing an enormous contract, it would look like the companies have figured things out with autonomous vehicles. Unfortunately, it looks like Mobileye still has some work to do. 

Autonomous Cars Still Aren't Perfect

As Bloomberg reports, Mobileye unveiled a fleet of self-driving prototypes last week that would be driving around the streets of Jerusalem. The vehicles were unlike other autonomous vehicles, as they weren't fitted with radars or lasers. Bloomberg Businessweek got a chance to test one of the prototypes when the company unveiled the fleet and found everything performed well. 

Mobileye, though, hosted a press event recently where one of its autonomous vehicles that was fitted with television cameras blew through a red light only a quarter of a mile away from the company's headquarters, reports the outlet. Thankfully, no one was injured. Interestingly, Mobileye had a safety driver that was monitoring the car, but allowed it to continue to run the light. 

According to Bloomberg, Mobileye's Chief Executive Officer Amnon Shashua, the television crew's wireless transmitters created electromagnetic interference that disrupted signals from a transponder on the traffic light. The self-driving vehicle's cameras correctly identified the red light, but the vehicle ignored the information and continued on its way because of signals it received from the transponder. The mistake has since been corrected. 

Why All Situations Need To Be Accounted For

"It was a very unique situation," said Shashua. "We'd never anticipated something like this." 

In terms of changes to ensure something like this never happens again, Mobileye has modified its hardware that's in charge of shielding the vehicle's computers from electromagnetic interference. This should hopefully prevent any incidents in the future. 

Despite the incident, Mobileye has continued to run its fleet of driverless cars in Jerusalem and claims that it hasn't received any complaints. 

Mobileye's technology will be used in various vehicles from automakers including Volkswagen and BMW, so it's imperative that the company nails everything down. While the prototypes in Jerusalem don't have any lasers or radars, the official machines will be fitted with the hardware as a form of redundancy. 

Running a red light might seem harmless, especially if no one was injured, but having a system ignore what a car sees led to a fatal accident earlier in March. Uber's autonomous system in its Volvo XC90 detected that a pedestrian was crossing the road, but chose not to do anything about it. Mobileye got extremely lucky, as the slip up could've led to a fatality. 

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