MobilEye still plans to launch Robotaxis in 2022

Some self-driving developers are delaying plans to launch commercial robotaxi services. Global supplier Mobileye, on the other hand, is sticking to a tight schedule. 

The company has already said it would deploy autonomous vehicles in ride-hailed fleets in 2022. Speaking Tuesday at a virtual version of EcoMotion, Israel’s signature mobility technology conference, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua offered further specifics. 

“It’s going to be early 2022,” he said. 

Automotive News

Ever notice how the companies taking the spatial approach keep delaying for decades, while teams taking a vision based approach seem to be making great progress? People call Tesla crazy for saying they will have Robotaxis in 2021, but nobody bats an eye when Intel promises the same in “early 2022”.

MobilEye was the supplier for Tesla Autopilot 1 before Tesla decided to branch off and make their own driver assistance system, marketed as the “Enhanced Autopilot” package.

With less than two years before the anticipated start of service in Jerusalem, the company has been busy preparing. This month, Mobileye and its Intel Corp. parent company acquired Moovit, a transit app that provides a user network and a data analytics layer for the business, for $900 million. 

Automotive News

I’m still not sure I understand how the Moovit acquisition helps MobilEye. Maybe it’s big in Israel?

While many competitors are partnering with other companies on various aspects of businesses underpinned by autonomous technology, Mobileye wants complete control of every part, from the silicon to the public-facing app.

“It’s difficult to break the task into components that can be developed independently by suppliers,” Shashua said. “The decision-making for merging into traffic, the maps, the high-definition maps, control of the vehicle, the vehicle itself, the hardware, the silicon, the compute. You cannot break it down. It’s an end-to-end system, and everything needs to work like clockwork.”

Automotive News

End to end control ends up being very important here, but there are very few companies that can vertically integrate the wide variety of disciplines needed to build a working Robotaxi. In fact, I can only really think of one.

For its Jerusalem service, Mobileye’s partners include Volkswagen Group and Champion Motors, an importer and distributor of VW vehicles in Israel. After that, Mobileye plans robotaxi service in Tel Aviv, France, China and South Korea. 

Automotive News

Why no plans to launch in the US? If they’re using Volkswagen vehicles, I’m guessing these first Robotaxis will be polluting gas powered cars. Long term, they won’t be able to compete with their all-electric counterparts.

Best of luck to Intel / MobilEye in launching their Robotaxi service on time. Besides Tesla, they are one of the top players in the space to watch based on their vision based approach and existing relationships in the automotive supply chain.

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