Looking at current trends being adopted by new companies and existing automakers, it is undeniable that autonomous cars could soon hit the roads across the globe.
Intel owned computer vision company Mobileye and Volkswagen, for instance, recently revealed their plan to roll out a commercial autonomous driving ride-hailing service in 2019 in Israel.
This endeavor marks an aggressive effort by the German-based car manufacturer that could see it become a leader of companies that aim to commercialize self-driving together with GM’s Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo.
As part of this remarkable deal, Volkswagen is expected to deliver a fleet of electric vehicles.
On the other hand, Mobileye will be in charge of the autonomous driving technology while Champion Motors , which is the second largest car distributor and importer in Israel will be responsible for fleet management activities. What’s more, the cars will be integrated with Mobileye’s AV kit, “a turn-key, driverless solution comprised of hardware, driving policy, safety software and map data,” said the companies.
The project is scheduled to begin in early 2019, primarily with several dozen cars and scale to “hundreds of self-driving electric cars” by 2022.
“This is not a pilot project,” an Intel spokesperson said in an email. “The joint venture is the first of its kind targeting Level 4/5 commercial MaaS.”
MaaS represents “Mobility as a Service,” which is the buzzword that is used in describing the shift from individually-owned cars and to a technology-driven transportation utopia.
Level 4/5 focus on the two leading levels of car automation as detailed by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Level 4 is human driver within specified parameters while Level 5 entails no human driver without limits. However, most experts are convinced that Level 5 automation would be difficult to attain.
Details like which city the new ride-hailing service would first be launched in were not immediately disclosed. However, the companies revealed that Israeli government supports the project and is ready to supply infrastructural and regulatory support as required.
Volkswagen does not feature in the membership of the super group, which consists of Chrysler, Fiat, Mobileye, Intel and BMW.
The group is known for not only being behind the creation of semi-autonomous but also fully autonomous technologies designed for production cars.
Currently, the companies are conducting AV testing on public roads.
They have also claimed to create “scalable architecture” that can be embraced by other designers and car manufacturers in plugging into different brands of cars.
“The VW and BMW relationships are different,” the Intel spokesperson said. “In the case of New Mobility in Israel with VW, we are forming a joint venture AND providing a turn-key AV Kit that will be retrofitted into existing VW cars. In the case of BMW, we are working with a company to design an [autonomous driving] solutions that will be customized for future Level 4-Level 5] BMW AVs.”
However, such a partnership is non-exclusive. It helps in freeing up every company in a bid to pursue its own projects. This ride-hailing endeavor with Volkswagen marks one of the visible projects.