Within 4-5 years, it will be commonplace to see on our roads autonomous cars drive alongside human-driven ones. Here’s the lowdown on how of the leading players in this industry is making that happen.
An official from Mobileye, Intel’s autonomous driving unit, stated it has signed a contract to supply 8 million cars with self-driving technology to a European automaker.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The deal is one of the biggest, so far, for Mobileye and is indicative of how carmakers and auto suppliers are accelerating the introduction of features that automate certain driving features, including emergency braking and highway driving, in order to generate
revenue while technology to enable fully automated driving in all conditions is still years away from mass-market deployment.
Mobileye’s deal for the advanced driver assisted systems is set to begin with the launch of Intel’s EyeQ5 chip in 2021.
The EyeQ5 is designed for fully autonomous driving, and will be an upgrade to the EyeQ4 which will be rolled out in the coming weeks, said Erez Dagan, Mobileye’s senior vice president for advanced development and strategy.
Intel’s chip has several rivals including chipmaker Nvidia Corp as well as machine vision system makers. These chips aim to be the brains and eyes of automated cars.
Future car systems are set to have partial automation, wherein although the car may self drive but the driver will have to be alert, as well as more advanced system of conditional automation.
According to Mobileye, there are already around 27 million cars from 25 automakers that use some form of driver assistance system. Its marketshare in this sector at more than 70%.
“By the end of 2019, we expect over 100,000 Level 3 cars with Mobileye installed,” said Amnon Shashua, Mobileye’s CEO.
In Level 3 systems, although the vehicle is self-driven, the driver is given 10 seconds to take over the controls, if the system is unable to continue.
Currently Mobileye is working with a number of automakers, including, BMW, Honda, Audi, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler and China’s Nio, to supply its Level 3 technologies by 2019.
Simultaneously, Mobileye is also testing its more advanced Level 4 technology in Ford Fusion hybrids and has installed twelve small cameras four, soon-to-be-released released EyeQ4 chips in their trunk.
In a test, these cars were able to self-navigate Jerusalem’s highways in midday traffic with no driver assistance.
The success of the test has raised the pitch for robo-taxis, which are set to hit the road by around 2021.
“When designing our system we are looking at all what can be used today, in a year, in two years and then the robo-taxi,” said Shashua.
He went on to add, around this time, some of the more expensive luxury cars, and possibly even some medium-priced vehicles, will use the same technologies – for an extra cost of about $12,000 per car.
Within a few years, self-driving cars will become common the roads and will share the space with human drivers. This is why safety is paramount, said Shashua.
Although currently there are around 40,000 fatalities on U.S. roads each year, no one will accept those numbers if those came from self-driven cars.
To prevent accidents, autonomous cars cannot only rely on cameras. They will have to process data from wide ranging devices, including laser scanners, radars, cameras and high-definition maps, said Shashua.
“On one hand you want to be safe but on the other hand assertive,” he said and noted that being too hesitant can cause impatience from other drivers which could lead to accidents.
“In the future, the system will observe other drivers on the road and after a certain amount of time adapts to driving conditions … It’s not unlike a human experience”.
One potentially troublesome issue that needs to be defined is – what is a dangerous situation.
“When you look at driving laws, they are comprehensive but not formally defined,” said Shashua. The issue will be ultimately resolved by courts. “We would like to formalize these things in advance to allow machines not to get into dangerous situations to begin with.”