While seemingly the entire stock market gushes over the future of electric vehicle maker Tesla (TSLA) and its stock price (up 21% so far in 2021), gone overlooked is the ongoing move toward creating totally driverless cars at some point in our lifetimes.
To that end, Intel-owned autonomous vehicle tech outfit Mobileye turned a few heads this week at the virtual Consumer Electrics Show (CES) with several announcements.
The company revealed that it’s developing a new chip with parent company Intel (INTC) that boasts laser sensors. That chip, Mobileye executives fancy, could help to bring autonomous cars to the mass market by 2025.
“We are looking at preparing for 2025,” Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua told Yahoo Finance Live, referring to the company’s autonomous vehicle ambitions. “We believe 2025 will be right for consumer autonomy where you go and buy a car and have an option to enable it to be autonomous.”
In preparation for that day, Mobileye said it will begin testing autonomous vehicles in Detroit, Tokyo, Shanghai and Paris early this year. New York City is on the list for testing this year, too, Shashua says, adding it is dependent on regulatory approval. The goal with these tests is to unveil fleets of robotaxis in 2022.
“We want very much to start testing in New York. I believe in April there is a chance that from a regulatory standpoint, one would be able to do test-driving in New York. At the moment, it’s not possible. But in April, I believe there will be a change in directives and regulations that will enable to test drive in New York,” Shashua said, adding testing in New York City is also possible amid successful testing of Mobileye-powered autonomous vehicles in Jerusalem.
The company told attendees at CES its first round of robotaxis will use lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) technology supplied by Luminar (LAZR). Shashua declined to comment on partnering with Luminar longer-term since it’s also developing a new chip to power autonomous vehicles.
Despite the advancements in lidar technology, however, most industry experts think it will be some time before roads have fully autonomous vehicles (known as Level 5 vehicles) riding up and down streets and highways.
“Fully autonomous SAE Levels 4- and 5–capable vehicles will remain the aspirational, revolutionary goal that has fueled the billions of dollars in investment by new and traditional automotive ecosystem companies. The development and deployment of these vehicles will require significant advances in technology, customer readiness and trust, and government regulation,” research firm IDC wrote in a paper recently. IDC said it doesn’t see fully autonomous vehicles on the market by 2024.
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