The Israeli computer vision firm owned by Intel, Mobileye and Volkswagen Group to launch a self-driving taxi service in Israel in early 2019, the companies announced the plan Monday.
The companies intend to start with a few dozen vehicles and scale it up to a commercialized venture with hundreds of vehicles by 2022, according to the announcement.
Will you offer us a hand? Every gift, regardless of size, fuels our future.
Your critical contribution enables us to maintain our independence from shareholders or wealthy owners, allowing us to keep up reporting without bias. It means we can continue to make Jewish Business News available to everyone.
You can support us for as little as $1 via PayPal at email@example.com.
The companies said that the vehicles will be fitted with Mobileye’s AV kit, “a turn-key, driverless solution comprised of hardware, driving policy, safety software and map data.”
Both Mobileye co-founder and CEO Amnon Shashua and Volkswagen stated in 2017 their intention to reach serial production of autonomous cars by 2021.
While the venture is still “subject to approval by the responsible authorities and bodies,” the companies said, the Israeli government is supposedly on board, ready to supply regulatory and infrastructural support as needed, the companies say. It isn’t clear which city the new service will first launch, which roads they will use, or what sort of precautions will be taken in terms of passengers and other drivers on the road.
As part of the deal, the German automaker will supply a fleet of electric cars, Mobileye will handle the self-driving technology, including its level-4 automotive vehicle kit, “a turn-key, driverless solution comprised of hardware, driving policy, safety software and map data.” Israeli car importer and distributor Champion Motors Ltd. will run fleet management operations.
Volkswagen is not part of the group previously comprised of BMW, Intel, Mobileye, and Fiat Chrysler that is working on the development of semi/fully autonomous technologies for production cars. The trio have said they want to develop “scalable architecture” that can be adopted by other automakers and designers to plug into vehicles of different brands.
The Israeli venture is intended to serve as a global beta site, the companies said. Since 2017 some several automotive companies have been testing their vehicles in Israel. Mobileye is the only company allowed to test its cars on roads that are not specifically designated for such tests in Israel.
Among automotive companies to develop autonomous taxis is Daimler AG, which set up partnerships with Bosch and Uber for the purpose; Ford Motors; General Motors, which partnered with Lyft; and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which also recently partnered with Didi Chuxing to explore the option in China.