The Israeli company Mobileye, which is in the process of developing autonomous (self-driving) cars, last week announced its plans to expand global testing in 2021 to Detroit, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai and possibly New York.
The company has already tested its technologies in Israel and in Munich, Germany. On average, 1.35 million people are killed in road accidents worldwide. With a growing number of vehicles worldwide, crash injuries are now reportedly the eighth leading cause of death around the world.
The idea of self-driving cars that might potentially reduce the number of traffic accidents worldwide is therefore an attractive one.
While Mobileye has a global vision of making roads safer, the company did not develop in a vacuum. Road accidents and reckless driving are chronic and serious problems in Israel. Around 300 Israelis are killed every year in traffic related accidents, far more than the number of Israelis killed in terrorist attacks.
The current CEO of Mobileye, Amnon Shashua, and his business partner Ziv Aviram founded Mobileye in Jerusalem in 1999. While its beginning was modest, the company eventually emerged as a global player in the futuristic industry of self-driving cars. Recognizing the huge potential, Intel, the giant U.S. corporation, bought Mobileye for a whopping $15.3 billion in 2017, one of the largest acquisitions to date involving an Israeli company.
In cooperation with large car manufacturers like BMW and Volkswagen Group, Mobileye continues developing its cutting-edge technology. While much work lies ahead, Mobileye’s current technology has already mapped close to 1 billion kilometers globally. More than eight million kilometers are mapped and added every day.
Apart from expanding its self-driving vehicle test centers globally during 2021, Mobileye also plans to launch its testing for self-driving taxi solutions in Daegu, South Korea. The company’s plan is to launch so- called self-driving robotaxis in the Japanese city Osaka by 2023, according to Amnon Shashua.
Following the normalization deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel in September 2020, Mobileye announced that it plans to set up infrastructure for self-driving cars in Dubai and have it rolled out by 2023.
Since passenger safety is the paramount issue to Mobileye, the company deliberately seeks to try out its technologies in difficult and demanding driving locations worldwide. Shashua expressed hope that Mobileye would eventually expand its testing operations to New York.
“New York City is a very, very interesting geography, driving culture, complexity to test,” he said. “We want to test in more difficult places.”
Mobileye has focused extensively on making its technology more affordable in order to facilitate proliferation of self-driving cars worldwide. Looking further into the future, Shashua predicts that by 2025, the self-driving car technology will no longer sound like science fiction.
“We would like 2025 to be the year in which we can start giving the experience of people buying a car and sitting in the back seat whenever they want and have the car drive everywhere — not just in one particular location,” Shashua said.
By 2025, Mobileye expects to have collected data from 25 million vehicles worldwide, in cooperation with different car manufacturers.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.