Powered by technology from Intel’s Mobileye division, the self-driving shuttle aims for Level 4 autonomy and will have no steering wheel or pedal.
from Intel The Mobileye division, which focuses on self-driving technology and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), has announced plans to bring fully autonomous electric shuttles to the United States in 2024. The Chip giant bought Mobileye in 2017 for an estimated $15.3 billion and aims to take it public later this year via the IPO route. The company already counts big-name customers such as Tesla, BMW, Volvo and General Motors among its customers, and has even licensed its “EyeQcamera-based awareness technology to Ford for use in its line of electric vehicles.
EyeQ technology offers features such as forward collision warnings and pedestrian and cyclist detection, among others. Speaking of pedestrian warning systems, Tesla recently had to recall around 600,000 cars in the United States because its warning system became non-compliant with current regulations. Mobileye already plans to deploy a fleet of robo-taxis in Germany and its home market, Israel, and is currently awaiting regulatory approval. Earlier this year, Mobileye showed off its EyeQ system-on-a-chip for self-driving cars and it looks like the company is now ready to take its solution to the roads.
Intel announced that its Mobileye unit has partnered with Benteler EV Systems and Beep to bring a fleet of “Autonomous, all-electric, automotive-grade movers in public and private communities across North America.” The futuristic shuttle is being developed for urban areas with first and last mile use cases in mind, and is expected to hit US roads in 2024. Mobileye is aiming for Level 4 autonomy (based on the SAE system) for autonomous vehicles manufactured by Benteler EV Systems, with the goal of providing an affordable means of transportation for the urban masses. For comparison, Mercedes and Chrysler are already touting Level 3 range, while Tesla’s version is officially at a lower level and continues to struggle with reliability and safety issues. Mobileye aims to prove to US road safety and regulatory agencies that its shuttles are actually safer without a human driver behind the wheel.
A safe solution for traffic congestion
Bentler will manufacture the autonomous shuttle in the United States and has already defined a few use case parameters, including availability for 24/7 commercial or public use, high comfort, no-compromise approach to safety and digestible costs. According to Reuters, the driverless on-demand shuttles will accommodate up to 14 passengers and will not be equipped with pedals or steering wheels. These shuttles will run in “geo-fenced areaswhere top speeds are capped at 35 miles per hour. The goal is to advance hundreds of autonomous shuttles in the first year of deployment, with further plans for global expansion that involve putting between 10,000 and 15,000 shuttles on the road.
Self-driving shuttles are not only seen as a safe micro-transit option, but they will also save costs and solve driver shortage issues that have caused headaches for Uber in several markets. Geo-fenced roads are touted as a solution to traffic congestion issues, while electricity takes care of emissions issues. However, this is not the first such initiative. The Spanish city of Malaga launched public trials of full-size autonomous electric buses in March last year. Buses can accommodate up to 60 passengers at a time, but unlike from Intel solution, they always have a driver behind the wheel to reassure passengers.
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Sources: Intel, Reuters
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