Germany is famous for its open roads and fast cars. Typically, high speed limits aren’t associated with self-driving vehicles. Intel’s Mobileye division is ready to change that.
It recently received regulatory approval to test its autonomous vehicles on German roads. With a safety driver behind the wheel, it will give its systems a stress test on the Autobahn at speeds of up to 81 mph. Notably, Mobileye claims that it is one of the first non-manufacturers to get an autonomous vehicle testing permit from German authorities.
Prior to Mobileye’s efforts, self-driving car tests in Germany typically took place in closed environments or simulated roads. The Intel division already has a similar program operating in Israel and has been testing autonomous cars there for several years. That likely helped it gain approval in Germany.
The ability to test self-driving cars on public roads in Germany reflects a big step towards the goal of a driverless future.
In order to gain the permits it needed, Mobileye’s test vehicles had to first pass an array of safety tests. Moreover, it had to provide hazard analysis and prove “that the cars can be safely integrated into public road traffic.”
Mobileye will now use the tests to demonstrate its “true redundancy” systems and a responsibility-sensitivity safety (RSS) AI policy. This system makes “common sense” decisions to prevent autonomous cars from getting into accidents.
The first of Mobileye’s autonomous vehicle tests will be completed in Munich. However, the company plans to perform further testing on open roads in other parts of Germany as well. It also aims to scale its testing program to more countries before the end of the year.
Mobileye is working on developing two different self-driving systems. One is based on cameras alone like Tesla’s Autopilot. The other harnesses the power of radar, LiDAR, and depth-detection sensors. As such, it is a bit more advanced.
Even so, the division hasn’t provided that either system is ready for hands-off level five or level four self-driving. With that being said, it’s unclear what sort of role the safety drivers will play in Mobileye’s upcoming German tests.
Acquisitions Leading the Way
Part of Mobileye’s new ability to test its self-driving cars is thanks to a recent acquisition. Intel purchased a mobility startup called Moovit back in May for $900 million. It now appears that the acquisition is proving its worth.
Using its combined resources from Moovit and Mobileye, Intel plans to create an app-based ride-hailing service at some point in the future. However, those plans could be put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rideshare industry has been decimated by the virus and its societal effects. Major players like Uber and Lyft have seen their bottom lines plummet with bookings down by as much as 80 percent.
Even so, the idea of driverless rideshare services has some potential. If Intel is able to tap into its resources to get a viable service off the ground, it could turn into yet another profitable arm.