Israeli company Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver assistance systems that help prevent collisions, has joined BMW and Intel on their quest to manufacture a driverless car by 2021. Test drives are expected to begin as early as next year.
With Mobileye contributing its cutting-edge autonomous driving technologies, and Intel Israel contributing the tremendous computing power needed for the future car, there’s no doubt Israel is playing a significant role in the emerging self-driving car industry.
“The computer processors for the car will most likely be designed in Israel, where we can collaborate with Mobileye,” Intel‘s Israeli director of sales (South Europe) Guy Bar-Ner tells NoCamels. “In the future driverless car, Intel’s processors will collect all data from Mobileye’s sensors and make real-time decisions. This requires a very powerful computer.”
Bar-Ner declined to comment on the future price of the car, but said it would likely cost about the same as other high-end luxury cars, and would not initially be mass marketed.
Despite the recent fatal crash of a Tesla car, which was operating on autopilot mode, the three companies believe they can make a safe driverless car by 2021. According to a joint statement the companies released, “the future of automated driving promises to change lives and societies for the better. But the path to get to a fully autonomous world is complex and will require end-to-end solutions that integrate intelligence across the network, from door locks to the data center.”
We must keep in mind that in the US alone, some 90 people die in car crashes involving human drivers every day, so driving in general has its risks. “Car accidents happen because of humans,” Bar-Ner says. “Driving nowadays is a lot scarier. Autonomous cars may not be perfect, but they will be much safer.”
Taking your hands off the wheel and your mind off the road
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Called “BMW iNEXT,” this model will set the basis for fleets of fully autonomous vehicles, not only on highways but also in urban environments for the purpose of automated ride-sharing solutions, according to BMW.
The goal of this joint venture is to enable drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but also to reach the so-called “eyes-off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level, transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time. This level of autonomy would enable the vehicle to achieve the final stage of traveling “driver off” (level 5) without a human driver inside.
“Trucks will be able to ship goods without a human driver,” Bar-Ner says. “It’s not a question of if – but when.”
According to Mobileye’s co-founder and chairman Prof. Amnon Shashua, “together with BMW Group and Intel, Mobileye is laying the groundwork for the technology of future mobility that enables fully autonomous driving to become a reality within the next few years.”
Intel, which develops technologies to power and connect billions of smart and connected devices, will now provide that same computing power – that is, extremely fast processors – to autonomous cars. “Highly autonomous cars and everything they connect to will require powerful and reliable electronic brains to make them smart enough to navigate traffic and avoid accidents,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement.
According to Harald Krüger, BMW’s chairman, “the combined expertise of Intel, Mobileye and the BMW Group will deliver the next core building blocks to bring fully automated driving technology to the street.”
Photos: Intel, BMW