Some self-driving developers are delaying plans to launch commercial robotaxi services. Global supplier Mobileye, on the other hand, is sticking to a tight schedule.
The company has already said it would deploy autonomous vehicles in ride-hailed fleets in 2022. Speaking Tuesday at a virtual version of EcoMotion, Israel's signature mobility technology conference, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua offered further specifics.
"It's going to be early 2022," he said.
With less than two years before the anticipated start of service in Jerusalem, the company has been busy preparing. This month, Mobileye and its Intel Corp. parent company acquired Moovit, a transit app that provides a user network and a data analytics layer for the business, for $900 million.
While many competitors are partnering with other companies on various aspects of businesses underpinned by autonomous technology, Mobileye wants complete control of every part, from the silicon to the public-facing app.
"It's difficult to break the task into components that can be developed independently by suppliers," Shashua said. "The decision-making for merging into traffic, the maps, the high-definition maps, control of the vehicle, the vehicle itself, the hardware, the silicon, the compute. You cannot break it down. It's an end-to-end system, and everything needs to work like clockwork."
Intel's venture capital arm had previously invested in Moovit. But when it came to buying the Israeli startup outright, Shashua said the deal came together in approximately 45 days. Amid COVID-19, the company's vetting had been done remotely.
For its Jerusalem service, Mobileye's partners include Volkswagen Group and Champion Motors, an importer and distributor of VW vehicles in Israel. After that, Mobileye plans robotaxi service in Tel Aviv, France, China and South Korea.