Mobileye CEO Claims Robotaxis Are Coming as Soon as 2022

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【Summary】The idea of robotaxis shuffling passengers around isn’t all that farfetched, as Mobileye’s CEO stated that options could be on the road within the next two years.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Feb 25, 2020 6:30 AM PT
Mobileye CEO Claims Robotaxis Are Coming as Soon as 2022

Mobileye is one of the major automakers working on autonomous vehicles. The company, which is owned by Intel, mainly focuses on producing computer chips and software that is used for Advanced Driver Assist Systems. Roughly 25 large automakers have partnered with Mobileye to use one of its products. So when the CEO claims that autonomous cars are coming, it's probably a sign that they're actually on the way.

Ready Or Not, Robotaxis Are Coming

In a Mad Money interview with CNBC, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua stated that robotaxis aren't that far off in the distance. "We are targeting early 2022," he said. Shashua went on to state that autonomous vehicles are going to be marketed to fleet operators first. After that, they'll become available to the general public. Ride-sharing companies, like Lyft, Uber, and Waymo are all companies that will most likely get the first round of autonomous vehicles.  

When it comes to the consumer market, Mobileye believes that self-driving vehicles for that purpose will be available a few years later, 2025 being the earliest. Regulatory and pricing are the reasons for holding driverless cars back in that specific segment.

"It's much easier to regulate an operator that operates a fleet of such vehicles because then you have reporting responsibilities" and other factors "that you cannot put on a consumer," he said.

High Prices Holding Autonomous Cars Back

Sensors, cameras, and other high-tech driving systems can drastically increase the price of an autonomous vehicle. A report from a few years ago claimed that an entry-level LiDAR unit cost roughly $8,000, while high-end systems could go as high as $80,000. In the real world, those priced hold up. Tesla offers a fully-self-driving feature on its vehicles for an additional $7,000. Prices are likely to go up in the future, but they're still pricey at the moment.

"When you think about the cost of the technology – the self-driving system – today it's somewhere between $15,000-$40,000 per car," said Shashua. "That's O.K. for a robotaxi. It's not O.K. for a consumer. But if you bring it down to about $5,000, which we believe we can do… by 2025, then it starts becoming interesting at the consumer level."

Currently, Waymo is leading the autonomous rush. The company has completed the most autonomous miles, as the brand recently hit the 20 million mile mark with its vehicles. Previous reports indicate that the company continues to lead the pack when it comes to disengagements, and it's one of the few to have truly autonomous vehicles on the road that are shuffling real passengers to destinations.

Mobileye is also hard at work, with projects underway in multiple countries including China, Israel, France, South Korea, and Spain. The problem with autonomous vehicles, according to Shashua, is getting them to work and putting them on the road.

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