Following up on my article about Waymo’s automotive connections, here’s a piece briefly diving into who Mobileye/Intel has automotive connections with. One problem here is that it’s not clear with some of the older announcements if they are still valid, and if they are headed where initially envisioned. Let’s jump in.
In January 2018, we reported, “In order to crowdsource data for self-driving car maps, Intel’s Mobileye tech will be outfitted in around 2 million vehicles from BMW, Nissan, and Volkswagen over the near term, an exec at the company has revealed.”
With regard to Nissan, it has been integrating Mobileye’s EyeQ3 and then EyeQ4 chips into its ProPilot suites, with ProPilot 2.0 using the EyeQ4. Actually, many of the leading automakers in driver-assist technology were using EyeQ3 in the mid to late 2010s, including: Tesla (until they split and Tesla built its own initial chip), GM, Audi, Volvo, and even electric bus maker Proterra.
BMW × Mobileye
A big BMW partnership was announced in early 2017, with integration of initial tech for vehicles going to market in 2018. Here were some details on the HD mapping approach Mobileye has been focused on that were included in that announcement:
“BMW Group sensor data can be merged with data from different automakers, resulting in a larger scale of data used to create Mobileye’s Global RoadBook (GLRB), to support and rapidly update HD maps with highly accurate localization capabilities. Autonomous vehicles will require HD maps that can identify and update changes in the environment with near real-time speed enabling very short ‘time to reflect reality’.
“The cameras that enable to collect anonymized, fleet-wide data act as intelligent agents that, through Mobileye EyeQ processors and software, can identify valuable information that is sent to the cloud in a highly compressed form (10 kilobytes per kilometer). This data can be used to add a dynamic layer to current and future navigation maps, enabling BMW Group customers to access true real-time information on traffic density, potential road hazards, weather conditions, on-street parking, and other helpful information.”
Volkswagen × Mobileye
Volkswagen Group and Champion Motors partnered with Mobileye in late 2018 for an autonomous ride-hailing service in Israel, some of the earliest plans to commercialize Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). Volkswagen was chosen to supply the vehicles, while Champion Motors would operate it. The plan announced in 2018 was for the project to start in early 2019 “and scale to commercialization by 2022.”
Update: A helpful commenter directed me to check out the video below, a Mobileye presentation from January 2020. The comment, “Username Taycan,” noting, “JV with VW and Champion Motors deploying and testing in Tel Aviv during this year. Mobility as a service with no driver present early 2022, about 200 vehicles in Tel Aviv, then scaling to all of Israel.”
NIO × Mobileye
In late 2019, approximately a year after that announcement, Intel and NIO announced that they would partner on “the development of highly automated and autonomous vehicles (AV) for consumer markets in China and other major territories.” What they said that meant, in practice, is “NIO will engineer and manufacture a self-driving system designed by Mobileye, building on its Level 4 (L4) AV kit. This self-driving system would be the first of its kind, targeting consumer autonomy and engineered for automotive qualification standards, quality, cost and scale. NIO will mass-produce the system for Mobileye and also integrate the technology into its electric vehicle lines for consumer markets and for Mobileye’s driverless ride-hailing services. NIO’s variants will target initial release in China, with plans to subsequently expand into other global markets.”
That makes it sound a bit like the Volkswagen–Mobileye–Champion Motors partnership fell through, but not having confirmation of that, we could also assume Volkswagen is still working on something similar with Mobileye.
Ford × Mobileye
The most recent announcement of an automaker teaming up with Mobileye was the Ford announcement last month.
According to Ford, the two companies “are expanding their relationship to offer even better camera-based detection capabilities for driver-assist systems, including improved forward collision warning, vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection, plus lane-keeping features. Mobileye will provide its suite of EyeQ® sensing technology to support available Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology driver-assist features such as Lane-Keeping System, Auto High-Beam headlamps, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering.”
In other words, there’s nothing about self-driving vehicles in there. It’s all about better driver-assist technology.
WILLER × Mobileye
WILLER is not an automaker, but this is a particularly interesting partnership I reported on a few days ago. The news is that Mobileye is partnering with WILLER, “one of the largest transportation operators in Japan, Taiwan and the Southeast Asian region,” in order to launch robotaxi service in Japan, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Southeast Asian.
Testing is supposed to begin in 2021. And the plan is to have self-driving taxis (robotaxis) and “autonomous on-demand shared shuttles” on the road in 2023.
Mobileye will be supplying the entire vehicles for this partnership. So, take your best guess at which of the automakers above (or which unnamed automaker) will work with Mobileye to produce the self-driving vehicles.