Mobileye NV, an Israeli supplier of automotive self-driving components, will provide systems for fully autonomous vehicles to two automakers as soon as 2019, the company says.
The programs, revealed this month in a management phone call with analysts, are the latest items in a growing business portfolio for the fast-emerging technology supplier. Mobileye also has announced deals to supply BMW, General Motors, Nissan, Volkswagen and one undisclosed automaker with technology that will allow autonomous driving on certain roads such as highways, timed to hit the market in 2018. Mobileye already is supplying the technology for Tesla Motors' semiautonomous Autopilot driving system.
Speaking to analysts for a quarterly earnings call, Mobileye officials said it is set to release two technologies by 2021 that could fundamentally alter how drivers get around:
- The EyeQ4, a chip that can process information from eight cameras at once and allow vehicles to self-drive on certain roads.
- The EyeQ5, which can process 20 sensors and allow for fully autonomous driving.
The EyeQ4 will be launched in 2018, Mobileye said. The EyeQ5, which eventually will be used by the two unidentified automakers, is set for a launch between 2019 and 2021, it said.
The EyeQ5, being developed with STMicroelectronics of Switzerland, is "basically designed to be the central [computer] of the vehicle," Mobileye Chief Technology Officer Amnon Shashua told the analysts.
"All the computations regarding driving policy, regarding mapping, regarding building environmental models ... from the sensors themselves would all be focused on a single chip, which is the EyeQ5," he said.
Mobileye, founded in 1999, has been making waves in recent years as a supplier of semiautonomous technology to Tier 1 suppliers and automakers. Mobileye's technologies support a number of intelligent-driving vehicle systems already on the highway, ranging from Tesla's advanced Autopilot feature to collision-alert safety features on GM vehicles. Through a combination of hardware enhancements and over-the-air software updates, the systems are helping automakers inch closer to their goal of putting fully autonomous vehicles on showroom floors.
Mobileye also is developing a continuously updating digital road map, which is key to making autonomous driving viable. Its Road Experience Management program uses its EyeQ technology to gather roadway information and landmarks to compile a comprehensive onboard map, which Mobileye says is essential when weather conditions, for instance, make cameras less reliable.
GM, Nissan and Volkswagen have signed up for the mapping project, and Mobileye anticipates that another four or five automakers will sign on by year end.
"At the end of the day, we'll be able to create a roadmap of high-definition map information together with our OEM partners and with mapping companies that will serve autonomy, and this is all done through camera processing," Shashua said. "The only sensor that can do that reliably is a camera sensor."