Mobileye, which specializes in vision-based autonomous vehicle chips, is now testing its AV equipment in New York – a difficult and rare business given state restrictions on such testing.
The announcement was made by Intel-owned company CEO Amnon Shashua at an event in the city on Tuesday. Shashua said the company is currently testing two autonomous vehicles in New York, but plans to increase that number to seven “in the coming months.”
There are some in New York the most dangerous, congested and poorly maintained streets in the world. They are also full of construction workers, pedestrians, cyclists and double and sometimes even triple parked cars. In theory, this would make autonomous vehicle navigation very difficult, given that safe use of vehicles usually requires good weather, clear signs and less aggressive driving by other road users. But Shashua said this was part of the challenge in deciding where Mobileye’s vehicles will be tested.
“I think it’s very, very challenging for a person to drive in New York,” Shashua said, “not to mention the robot car.”
While other states have become hot beds for AV testing, New York has been a bit of a ghost town. Part of the reason may be strict state rules, which include an order for safety drivers to always be on the bike and always require a state police escort to be paid by the testing company.
A Mobileye spokesman says the company has received permission from the state to test its vehicles on public roads and is currently the only holder of an AV testing license in the state. The spokesman also said police escorts were no longer needed. (New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman postponed the comment to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, which did not respond immediately to the request for comment.)
In 2017 GM-sponsored Cruise announced its plans test their self – propelled vehicles in lower Manhattan, but those plans were banished little explanation for why. In Boston Optimus Ride tested autonomous shuttles in Brooklyn, but only on private roads as part of the city’s Navy Yard. At the same time, operators flocked to places where more friendly regulations applied (such as Arizona) or places more comfortable than their headquarters (such as California).
The Mobileye turnkey opening system is based on two subsystems, Shashua said: one based on 12 cameras and no other sensors, and another that includes a lidar and radar but no cameras. The company will merge the two subsystems later this year, he said.
Camera only system comes into production as a Level 2 advanced driver assistance system at Zeekri, a new electric car brand from China’s Geely. This will allow Mobileye to collect more data on consumer-owned vehicles, which it will then use to strengthen its autonomous car fleets.
Mobileye’s system also includes two of the Israeli company’s latest EyeQ systems on a chip and a a data group program called Road Experience Management, or REM, which uses real-time data from Mobileye-equipped vehicles to build a global 3D map.
The company is testing autonomous vehicles in several cities around the world for the final launch of the robotaxi service and has said it will also bring its technology to personally dedicated consumer vehicles by 2025. Earlier this year, Mobileye announced its launch full, completely driverless transport service from 2023.