Volkswagen, Intel’s Mobileye, and Champion Motors will deploy Israel’s first self-driving ride-hailing service in 2019.
Volkswagen will provide electric vehicles (EVs) for the fleet of cars, while Champion Motors will cover fleet logistics and infrastructure for deployment.
Mobileye, Intel’s Israel-based driver assistance systems provider, will provide the “AV 4” system that is validated for level 4 autonomous driving. It will also cover hardware, driving policy, safety software, and map data.
Intel said that deployment of the EV fleet, which will operate like a driverless version of Uber or Lyft, will roll out in phases until full commercialisation in 2022, going from several dozen vehicles to several hundred.
“We firmly believe that self-driving electric vehicles will offer Israel and cities around the world safe, clean, and emission-free mobility, which is accessible and convenient,” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess.
Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua added: “Our service aims to intelligently and dynamically adapt to the urban mobility needs of the 21st century, catering to the mobility-mileage demands within the city while minimising the direct/indirect incurred societal costs – air/noise pollution, congestion, and safety.”
It’s unknown whether Volkswagen’s autonomous concept car for mobility services, dubbed Sedric, will be part of the fleet.
The Israeli government is backing the project by sharing required infrastructure and traffic data, access to infrastructure, and facilitating legal and regulatory support.
Israel will also be used as a global beta site by the three companies to test the MaaS model, Intel said – suggesting it could be deployed outside of the country if successful.
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The planned joint venture for the project is subject to approval by relevant authorities.
Intel purchased Mobileye in March last year, for $15.3 billion. The Jerusalem-based company’s tech uses sensors and AI to allow a vehicle’s on-board computers know where it is in relation to its surroundings.
Since the acquisition, Mobileye announced plans to build a 100-strong fleet of autonomous test cars across a range of different car brands to demonstrate its technology.
BMW and Nissan also joined up with Intel earlier this year to push the deployment of driverless vehicles, aiming for 2 million vehicles.
Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich announced at CES 2018 that the vehicles from the three car makers would be using Mobileye technology to crowdsource data to build maps that enable autonomous driving.
Tesla previously used Mobileye technology for the former’s Autopilot system that was to blame for a fatal crash with a trailer in 2016.