Intel and Mobileye develop LiDAR in a Chip

Mobileye announced during CES 2021 this week that it has produced the first prototype of an Automotive LiDAR sensor based on Intel’s Silicon Photonics technology. The new sensor is planned to be installed in its Autonomouse Driving systems in 2025, when the market will be ready for a mass deployment of AVs. According to Prof. Amnon Shashua, President and CEO of Mobileye, the new sensor is based on Frequency-Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology and Doppler-style algorithms as opposed to the current Time of Flight sensors.

The FMCW sensor provides 4D velocity relative measurements for a distance of up to 300 meters. Its high resolution detection capability reaches 600 points per degree, created by 2 milliom laser pulses per second (2M PPS). The idea is that current approaches and available sensors are too expensive for consumer AVs. Mobileye needs Radars and LiDARs that are both better and cheaper. To reach L5 autonomy it propose three levels of redundancy in the forward-facing field of view (FoV), and for the rest of the FoV, 2 levels of redundancy.

In this scenario, the EV system consists of 360⁰ camera coverage, 360⁰ Radar cocoon and one forward-facing LiDAR sensor. In fact, Intel owns a unique Fab capable of putting active and passive optical elements on a chip together, including lasers and optical amplifiers, loaded onto a photonic integrated circuit, PIC.

The goals for the future radar chip are also very agressive: It will be a software-defined imaging radar eqipped with 2,304 virtual channels based on 48 by 48 transmitters and receivers. This radar will be able to detect motorcycles beyond 200m, old tire on the road, 140 meters away and low and small hazards on the road.

Mobileye Starts Testing Self-Driving Vehicles in Germany

TÜV Süd had awarded Mobileye an automated vehicle testing permit. As a leading expert in the field of safe and secure automated driving, TÜV SÜD enabled Mobileye to obtain approval from German authorities by validating the vehicle and functional safety concepts of Mobileye’s AV test vehicle. This allows Mobileye to perform AV testing in real-world traffic on all German roads at speeds up to 130 kilometers per hour.

Mobileye is starting testing in Munich and also plans additional testing in other parts of Germany. The permit allows Mobileye to demonstrate its self-driving system (SDS) for MaaS and consumer autonomous vehicles. The SDS is comprised of vision sensing, two independent perception sub-systems, crowd-sourced mapping in the form of Road Experience Management (REM) and Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) driving policy.

Driving with Electronic Map

Owned by Intel, Mobileye has already laid the foundations with REM. In cooperation with various automobile manufacturers, data from 25 million vehicles is expected to be collected by 2025, to create high-definition maps of the worldwide road infrastructure. The company estimates that millions of kilometers of roads across the globe are mapped every day with the REM technology.

Intel, Mobileye and Moovit push the implementation of mobility-as-a-service. All means of transport — from public transport to car and bike sharing services to ride hailing and ride sharing with self-driving vehicles — will be bundled within one service offering of Moovit and Mobileye, smartly managed by Moovit’s mobility intelligence platform.

Last week Mobileye and WILLER, a large transportation operator in Japan, Taiwan and the Southeast Asian region, announced a strategic collaboration to launch an autonomous robotaxi service in Japan and markets across Southeast Asia, including Taiwan. Beginning in Japan, the companies will collaborate on the testing and deployment of autonomous transportation solutions based on Mobileye’s automated vehicle (AV) technology.

WILLER has partnered with Kuo-Kuang Motor Transportation, the largest bus operator in Taiwan, Mai Linh, the largest taxi company in Vietnam, and with 150 local transportation providers in Japan. On top of these partnerships, it will provide self-driving ride-hailing and ride-sharing services in the region, together with Mobileye.

High-Volume Agreement with Ford

This week, Mobileye and Ford Announced High-Volume Agreement for ADAS in Global Vehicles: Mobileye was chosen to be the supplier of vision-sensing technology for Ford’s advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). It will provide its EyeQ sensing technology to support Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology available ADAS features, such as Lane-Keeping System, auto high-beam headlamps, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering.

BMW-Mercedes Break up is bad news for Intel/Mobileye

Photo above: BMW impression of highway autonomous driving

Less than a year since the German Automotive giants BMW Group and Mercedes-Benz AG agreed to work together on a joint development program of next-generation technologies for driver assistance systems and automated driving, they decided to halt the cooperation and to take different paths. Last week they announced that they are putting their cooperation in automated driving “temporarily on hold”.

The original agreement raised many expectations: On July 2019, the two parties announced an agreement for a long-term strategic cooperation, which will include joint development of driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and automated parking (SAE Level 4). They planned to bring together more than 1,200 specialists from both companies, often in mixed teams, to develop a scalable architecture for driver assistance systems, including sensors, as well as a joint data centre for data storage, administration and processing, and functions and software.

Intel/BMW vs Mercedes/NVIDIA

For Intel and Mobileye (owned by Intel) it was a great opportunity: They both have a long and deep cooperation with BMW Group in all aspects of Autonomous Driving, and the agreement could secure their dominant position in the German car industry. “We have systematically further developed our technology and scalable platform with partners like Intel, Mobileye, FCA and Ansys,” said Klaus Fröhlich, member of the Board of Management of BMW. “Our current technology, with extremely powerful sensors and computing power, puts us in an excellent position.”

But those hopes were short lived: “Digitalization is a major strategic pillar for Mercedes-Benz. To prepare for the future challenges of a rapidly changing environment, we are currently also sounding out other possibilities with partners outside the automotive sector,” said Markus Schäfer, Board Member of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz.

And it turned out that one of these “partners” is NVIDIA – a bitter competitor of Intel and Mobileye. On Tuesday, June 23, they announced a cooperation to create a revolutionary in-vehicle computing system and AI computing infrastructure. Starting in 2024, this will be rolled out across the fleet of next-generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

The new software-defined architecture will be built on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform and will be standard in Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation fleet. But there is a twist: NVIDIA and Mercedes-Benz will jointly develop the AI and automated vehicle applications for SAE level 2 and 3 – far below the ambitious goal of the original BMW/Mercedes coalition.

NIO to Build Mobileye’s Autonomous Taxi

By Yohai Schwiger, Techtime

Mobileye and the Chinese electric vehicle producer, NIO, are engaging in a strategic collaboration on the development of highly automated and autonomous vehicles (AV) for consumer markets in China and other major territories. As part of the planned cooperation, NIO will engineer and manufacture a self-driving system designed by Mobileye, building on its Level 4 (L4) AV kit. NIO will mass-produce the system for Mobileye and also integrate the technology into its electric vehicle lines for consumer markets and for Mobileye’s driverless ride-hailing services. NIO’s variants will target initial release in China, with plans to expand later into other global markets.

With NIO serving as its manufacturing partner, Mobileye’s self-driving system will be accessible to mass markets. NIO is the first large-scale automaker partner supplying vehicles to Mobileye’s future robotaxi fleet. By the collaboration with Mobileye, NIO aims to strength its position in the premium electric vehicle market.

Under the planned collaboration, Mobileye will provide the design of the self-driving system: L4 AV kit comprised of the Mobileye EyeQ system-on-chip, hardware, driving policy, safety software and mapping solution. NIO will provide engineering, integration and mass-production of Mobileye’s system for both consumer markets and for Mobileye’s mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) applications. NIO will also develop a variant of electric AV that Mobileye will use as robotaxis, deployed for ride-hailing services in global markets.

Cars in the Mobileye fleet of autonomous vehicles leave the Mobileye garage in Jerusalem, for test drives
Cars in the Mobileye fleet of autonomous vehicles leave the Mobileye garage in Jerusalem, for test drives

Mobileye’s AV kit

The L4 AV kit is a driverless technology solution designed to be integrated in vehicles with autonomous capabilities. It offers the necessary hardware to enable full autonomy in vehicles, including cameras, radars, lidars, cables, modem, GPS and additional mechanical components, all powered by the 5th generation EyeQ system-on-chip.

Mobileye’s proprietary reinforcement learning algorithms enable human-like driving skills for vehicle systems. Mobileye’s driving policy technology allows vehicles equipped with the AV kit, to negotiate with other human-driven vehicles on the road in complex situations.

Mobileye’s driving policy is complemented by Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) model, which helps ensure an autonomous vehicle will make safe decisions. RSS is an open and transparent formal model that provides safety parameters for AV decision-making, formalizing common sense human-centered concepts of what it means to drive safely. While the planning behind driving policy gets vehicles from Point A to Point B, RSS helps keep them safe along the way.

Mobileye, an Intel company, builds on its current ADAS systems to build autonomous driving systems. In the 2019’s third quarter, Mobileye achieved record quarter with 20% revenue growth, reaching $229 million revenues. Today, it powers ADAS systems in 300 car models with 27 OEM partners, and by the end of 2019, Mobileye expects to reach more than 50 million EyeQ chips shipped since 2008.