Mobileye: Preview of the robotaxis ride before the launch in Israel and Germany

Jerusalem-based self-driving technology maker Intel Corporation’s Mobileye this week unveiled a 40-minute self-driving car ride around Jerusalem ahead of the company’s planned launch later this year of a comprehensive pilot project for robotaxi and self-driving public transport shuttles in Munich and Tel Aviv.

The video shows the vehicle operating in autonomous mode “while mimicking the multi-stop behavior of a transportation service with human proficiency,” Mobileye said, and shows its Mobileye Drive system with Level 4 autonomous vehicle technology, which allows high automation without human intervention in limited areas (also called “geofencing”), but humans can still intervene manually if necessary.

The footage, filmed from inside the vehicle, shows the car maneuvering through the capital’s narrow streets at night, stopping at traffic lights without overlooking motorbikes and scooters, navigating around pedestrians crossing the street and even patiently waiting at a green light at a busy intersection as a human driver makes an illegal U-turn while driving another car.

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Mobileye said in an announcement on Tuesday that such testing marked a “major milestone” for the Intel subsidiary ahead of the launch of robotaxi (robotic/self-driving taxi) services in Israel and Germany.

The company has partnered with German car rental and mobility services giant Sixt SE and Israeli smart transport data company Moovit (acquired by Intel in 2020 for $1 billion) for transport services.

In Israel, the vehicles in Mobileye’s robo-taxi fleet are orange NIO SE8, seven-seat electric SUVs made by Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer NIO, with which the company signed a collaboration agreement in 2019. The vehicles are powered by the company’s fully integrated self-driving system, dubbed Mobileye Drive, and developed specifically for commercial driverless ridesharing services.

Users will be able to access the service on the app developed by Moovit, as well as on the Sixt app, which combines carpooling, car rental, car sharing and other offers.

Mobileye has begun the licensing and regulatory approval process in Israel and Germany to move forward with its projects. Last month, the Knesset passed a law that will allow Mobileye and other companies to obtain special permits from the Transportation Ministry and experiment with self-driving cars “including the ability to carry paying passengers” and ” where an autonomous driving system replaces the driver” on Israeli roads.

Germany passed legislation last year that allows Level 4 autonomous driving on public roads in specific areas.

Jerusalem-based Mobileye currently has the largest international fleet of self-driving vehicles, with pilots in Munich, Detroit, New York, Tokyo and, most recently, Paris. Intel has been testing autonomous vehicles in Israel since 2018, and in Munich since 2020.

A self-driving taxi powered by Mobileye driving technology with the Moovit home transit app driving along the coast in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, September 2021. (Mobileye/Intel)

Mobileye has banked on commercial robotaxi services in Tel Aviv, Munich and Paris, but also self-driving public transport shuttles across Europe and delivery vehicles in the United States as the first introduction of self-driving cars on the roads.

mobileye system

Mobileye’s self-driving system, Mobileye Drive, is made up of three parts. The first is advanced vision sensing technology, which Mobileye calls True Redundacy, made up of two perception subsystems that the company says provide better security and validation because they work independently of each other. .

The second is Mobileye’s Road Experience Management (REM) participatory mapping technology, which creates high-definition maps of road infrastructure around the world. According to Mobileye, this technology generates data on more than 15 million kilometers of roads daily.

A Mobileye system in Mobileye’s upcoming fleet of self-driving taxis in Tel Aviv and Munich. September 2021. (Credit: Mobileye/Intel)

The final piece is Mobileye’s “pioneering” RSS (Responsibility-Sensitive Safety) conduct policy, which, according to the company’s co-founder and CEO, Amnon Shashua, “supports rapid scaling in all parts of the world with different driving cultures”.

Johann Jungwirth, Vice President of Mobility at Mobileye, said Mobileye Drive “defies industry standards with separate sensing subsystems that act as backups to each other. The normal way the vehicle navigates through very complex scenarios proves the value of this approach.

​Mobileye Vice President Johann Jungwirth takes viewers on a virtual ride through the streets of Jerusalem with the self-driving vehicle equipped with Mobileye Drive, April 12, 2022. (Credit: Mobileye, an Intel Company)

$6 million for an autonomous transport pilot project

Separately, on Wednesday, the Israel Innovation Authority, the Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety, the National Public Transport Authority and Ayalon Highways announced the launch of a NIS 20 million (5 .74 million euros) to carry out pilot projects of autonomous public transport in Israel.

The initiative aims to examine the feasibility of integrating autonomous vehicles into the public transport system in Israel and connecting transport operators and innovative technology companies in Israel and around the world.

“The initiative will also map the infrastructure needed to operate an autonomous public transport system, support and test the business plan of public transport operators, with the intention that within a year or two, companies that successfully complete the pilot project have the opportunity to commercially operate public transport services in Israel,” the Israel Innovation Authority said.

Michal Frank, director general of the Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety, said in the announcement that the initiative was “a direct continuation of legislation recently passed in the Knesset, allowing the commercial operation of self-driving vehicles.”

“The smart transportation initiative is expected to provide tremendous help with one of the biggest challenges facing the State of Israel: traffic congestion,” said Dror Bin, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority. “The shift to autonomous, driverless buses will help streamline the public transport system, improve safety and address driver shortages – all within a few years. »

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