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Intel subsidiary Mobileye today announced a partnership with Transdev ATS and Lohr Group to develop and deploy shared autonomous vehicle transportation services. As a part of the deal, Transdev and Lohr plan to integrate Mobileye’s driverless system into Lohr’s i-Cristal shuttle, with plans to launch autonomous public transportation powered by fleets of self-driving shuttles in Europe and then further internationally.
Some experts predict the pandemic will hasten the adoption of autonomous vehicles for delivery. Self-driving cars, vans, and trucks promise to minimize the risk of spreading disease by limiting driver contact, which is perhaps why people across the globe trust the safety of autonomous vehicles more than they did three years ago, according to several surveys by Deloitte.
Over the next year, Mobileye says it’ll work with Transdev and Lohr to ship i-Cristal autonomous shuttles equipped with Mobileye’s autonomous technology. The i-Cristal shuttle, which is electric, features space for up to 16 people, is accessible via a ramp, and can travel at speeds up to 31 miles per hour.
The three companies will initially test vehicles on roadways in France and Israel, aiming for production in 2022 and the launch of commercial operations by 2023.
“Our collaboration with Transdev ATS and Lohr Group serves to grow Mobileye’s global footprint as the autonomous vehicle (AV) technology partner of choice for pioneers in the transportation industry,” Johann Jungwirth, VP of mobility-as-a-service at Mobileye, said in a press release. “Mobileye, Transdev ATS and Lohr Group are shaping the future of shared autonomous mobility, and we look forward to bringing our self-driving solutions to regions all over the world.”
Mobileye, which Intel acquired for $15.3 billion in March 2017, is building two independent self-driving systems. One is based entirely on cameras while the other incorporates radar, lidar sensors, modems, GPS, and other components. The former runs on two of the company’s EyeQ 5 system-on-chips processing 11 cameras, along with lidar and radar for redundancy. The next generation of the chip, EyeQ6, is expected to arrive in 2023 and will continue to be made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. using its 7-nanometer chipmaking process.
Mobileye’s system isn’t unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, which uses 8 cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and front-facing radar in tandem with an onboard computer to achieve a level of high-speed autonomy. Tesla “shadow-tests” its cars’ autonomous capabilities by collecting anonymized data from hundreds of thousands of customer-owned vehicles “during normal driving operations.” Tesla’s cars, however, omit lidar; CEO Elon Musk has called the laser-based sensors “a crutch.”
Mobileye’s system-on-chip lidar system features digital and “state-of-the-art” signal processing, different scanning modes, rich raw detections, and multi-frame tracking. Using AI algorithms, the company claims its technology can reduce computing requirements while allowing autonomous vehicles to recognize up to 500,000 detections per second.
Mobileye recently announced four new locations — Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, and potentially New York City — where it plans to test its autonomous vehicle technologies. Beyond this, the company previewed new radar and lidar sensor technologies that will ostensibly detect weak targets far away in the presence of “strong” nearby targets, like a motorcyclist obscured by a semitrailer. By 2022, Mobileye is aiming to deploy robo-taxi fleets in three major cities, including 100 cars with lidar and radar in Tel Aviv, with the hardware cost per robo-taxi coming in at $10,000 to $20,000. By 2025, Mobileye expects to bring the cost of a self-driving system below $5,000.
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