Earlier this year, Intel announced a deal to acquire Mobileye, an Israel-based company developing autonomous driving technologies, for a staggering $15 billion.
Intel now confirms the closing of the deal and as part of the integration of the company, they announced a new fleet of 100 autonomous test vehicles.
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Mobileye will be building the level 4 autonomous vehicles using “multiple car brands and vehicle types to demonstrate the technology’s agnostic nature” and deploy them in the United States, Israel and Europe, starting with the first cars by the end of the year.
Amnon Shashua, the CTO and co-founder of Mobileye who is now being described as “soon-to-be senior vice president of Intel Corporation and future CEO/CTO of Mobileye”, commented on the announcement:
“Building cars and testing them in real-world conditions provides immediate feedback and will accelerate delivery of technologies and solutions for highly and fully autonomous vehicles. Geographic diversity is very important as different regions have very diverse driving styles as well as different road conditions and signage. Our goal is to develop autonomous vehicle technology that can be deployed anywhere, which means we need to test and train the vehicles in varying locations.”
Intel intends for the new fleet to demonstrate the combination of Mobileye and Intel’s technologies into a “hybrid system”.
They wrote in a press release:
“Building these test vehicles, Intel’s new entity will combine proprietary capabilities from Mobileye including computer vision, sensing, fusion, mapping and driving policy along with Intel’s leading open compute platforms and expertise in data center and 5G communication technologies to deliver a complete “car-to-cloud” system.”
Until last year, Mobileye was best known for being Tesla’s partner on the Autopilot program until an ugly public breakup.
Shashua claimed that Tesla was “pushing the envelope in terms of safety” after someone died in an accident while the Autopilot was activated – even though the system was later found not to be the cause of the crash by US authorities. Tesla issued a scathing response alleging that the automaker already planned to discontinue Mobileye’s system and that the Israeli company attempted some questionable methods to force Tesla to use their system for future generations of the Autopilot.
Tesla has since been developing its own computer vision and deep learning neural nets using a hardware agnostic system – leading to the Autopilot 2.5 hardware suite that we reported on later today.
While Mobileye lost Tesla as a client, the company thrived with several other partnerships with major automakers, including BMW.