Mobileye Vying to Develop Driverless Car

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The Jerusalem-based vehicle safety systems manufacturer Mobileye has entered the automatic car development market with the goal of developing a driverless car. TheMarker has learned that Mobileye is collaborating with American electric car manufacturer Tesla and is studying systems it is developing in Israel.

Mobileye’s system is based on five cameras – two in front, one in back and one on each side of the vehicle -- and is synchronized with the car’s navigation system. According to information Mobileye has made public in the past, its automatic driving system ensures distance from other vehicles, maintains the center of the lane and can identify traffic lights and signs. Using the side cameras, the car can cross an intersection that does not have traffic lights, and can change lanes in urban traffic. The system has been tested on cars manufactured by Opel, Audi, Toyota and Nissan.

Tesla’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, has said in the past that Tesla’s automatic cars would be available for purchase in 2016. However, they would be only 95 percent automatic, he said at the time. One hundred automation is difficult to achieve, he told Reuters at the time.

Prof. Amnon Shashua, founder of Mobileye, made similar comments in a past interview with TheMarker. “This is not automatic driving in which the driver types an address and goes to sleep. The system allows control to be given to it for a limited period. You can read a text message or change the radio station and give temporary control to the cameras,” he said.

Mobileye, which was established in 1999, specializes in analyzing and processing pictures from video cameras. The company’s system can identify the proximity of vehicles, pedestrians and objects to warn of an impending collision and unplanned passing from lane to lane.

Its next big market is automatic cars, but it is competing with manufacturers like General Motors and Mercedes Benz, as well as safety systems companies like Elbit and Google, which is developing a sophisticated and expensive system based on its Street View photos.

Three states in the United States have now changed their laws to allow test-driving of automatic cars, for the time being with a driver at the wheel. About a month after receiving the first permit, Google posted a Youtube clip showing Californian Steve Mahan, who says in the clip that he has lost 95 percent of his vision, traveling in an automatic car from his home to a fast-food restaurant, the laundromat and back home.

Mobileye did not respond for this report.

Tesla's model S.Credit: Bloomberg