Intel will, by the end of the year, begin rolling out a test fleet of around 100 Level 4 autonomous vehicles on public roads.
The chip maker announced its plans after revealing it had completed the bulk of its acquisition of Mobileye, a major automotive safety systems supplier.
To be developed and built by Mobileye, the Level 4 test fleet will be tested on public roads in Israel, the United States and Europe.
The company’s test fleet will use Mobileye’s computer vision, sensor fusion, and mapping technologies, as well as its software smarts. Intel will provide the fleet’s computing hardware, cloud data centre back-end, and 5G communications gear.
It’s not known which vehicle Mobileye will use as the base for its test fleet. Nor is known whether the company will partner with an automaker. It’s possible Intel and Mobileye will strike a deal similar to the one between Fiat Chrysler and Waymo, which will see the Italian-American car maker deliver at least 600 self-driving Chrysler Pacifica people movers to the Google division.
At CES 2016, Mobileye and BMW announced plans to develop and launch a fully autonomous production vehicle by 2021. At CES 2017, the partners said they planned to launch a fleet of 40 autonomous test vehicles during the second half of 2017.
Above: BMW Vision Next 100.
Amnon Shashua, soon-to-be Mobileye’s new CEO, says, “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.”
With an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle, the car can drive itself in most situations. In circumstanes beyond its programming or normal operational bounds, it will alert the driver to take over.
If the driver doesn’t respond, the car should still be able to handle the situation safely. The driver can opt to take control of the car at any time they choose.
Intel announced its plans to purchase Mobileye for US$20 billion ($25 billion) in March. So far the company has swept up 84 per cent of Mobileye’s shares, and has launched an offer to acquire the rest.
As part of its purchase, Mobileye will essentially take over Intel’s Automated Driving Group. The combined division will be run from Mobileye’s headquarters in Israel.