Israel Positions Itself to Become the Center For Driverless Cars

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【Summary】According to a report by The Detroit News, Israel is quickly overtaking Detroit and Silicon Valley as a global leader in autonomous technology.

Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 29, 2017 10:55 AM PT
Israel Positions Itself to Become the Center For Driverless Cars

At the moment, Detroit, Mich. and Silicon Valley, Calif. are prime locations for automakers to set up shop to develop, test, and engineer autonomous technology. Silicon Valley has the startups and individuals that are familiar with the technology that goes into creating driverless vehicles, while Detroit provides access to suppliers and automakers. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that these two locations are becoming go-to spots for companies and automakers interested in self-driving tech. 

Make Way For Israel

The Detroit News, though, believes that there's another location that is setting itself up to becoming the center of the autonomous world – Israel. 

That may sound like a bit of a stretch, but there's sound logic behind the claim. With Intel purchasing Mobileye, the Israeli-based technology company, for $15.3 billion, the country has been put on the map as a global leader in the quickly emerging segment of driverless technology. But Mobileye isn't the only tech company in the country. 

As the report points out, Israel is now home to numerous startups that provide crucial components for self-driving cars. These parts include, sensors, data collection software, and cybersecurity systems for driverless vehicles. The Detroit News believes these startups have propelled Israel to the same level as Silicon Valley and expects the country to expand within the next decade, as well. 

According to Lior Zeno-Zamanski, executive director of EcoMotion, a nonprofit group that promotes smart transportation in Israel, global interest is on the rise. "In the last 12 months, the global interest is rising more and more," Zeno-Zamanski told The Detroit News. "Everyone is looking out for the next Mobileye." 

Automakers Scramble To Get Their Footing

The situation, as Zeno-Zamanski points out, has caused the number of startups in the country to increase. She claims that Israel's smart transportation sector has attracted approximately $4 billion in investments over the past four years. Two leaders in the industry, Mobileye and Waze, are responsible for nearly half of the funds. During the same period of time, the number of startups in Israel has also increased from 87 to over 500. 

Major automakers have noticed the trend and have started to get a foothold in the country, as well. The Detroit News reports that General Motors has opened a research center in Israel, while Daimler and Renault are in the process of opening buildings too. Those aren't the only automakers that are in the area, though, as the outlet claims BMW, Subaru, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Volvo, Hyundai, and Audi are active in the market, as well. 

Michael Granoff, president of Maniv Mobility, believes that the automotive industry is "ripe for change" and as a leader of one of the country's only venture firms that's dedicated to developing automotive tech, he has a point. Citing the inefficiencies, high costs of owning a vehicle, traffic, and the figure of global road fatalities, Granoff believes that Israel is poised to lead the change as a technology superpower. 

"What we are witnessing is the digitization of transportation, and digitization is something that Israel has been a leader in," said Granoff. 

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