Israel’s Mobileye is teaming up with German car maker Volkswagen and car importer Champion Motors are teaming up to launch the country’s first driverless ride-hailing service, the companies said Monday.
Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel Corp. last year for $15.3 billion, will provide the self-driving technology for the Volkswagen electric vehicles for the scheme they call Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). Champion Motors will run the fleet.
The plan is expected to be launched next year and be operational by 2022. “New Mobility in Israel will roll out in phases and grow quickly from several dozen to hundreds of self-driving electric vehicles,” the statement said.
“The government of Israel has committed to support the project in three main areas: furnishing legal and regulatory support, sharing the required infrastructure and traffic data, and providing access to infrastructure as needed,” the statement said.
The move is likely to cause an uproar among Israel’s taxi drivers who have so far successfully lobbied to bar competition like Uber and Lyft.
“We firmly believe that self-driving electric vehicles will offer Israel and cities around the world safe, clean and emission-free mobility, which is accessible and convenient,” said Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group.
Mobileye is a developer of chips for car cameras and driver-assistance features. In January, Intel and Mobileye unveiled their first autonomous car, equipped with 12 cameras and sensors that enable the cars to navigate the traffic by providing the vehicle with different fields of view.
In May, the company suffered a setback in its testing when a self-driving car ran a red light during a test drive in Jerusalem while a TV crew was inside the car filming the incident.
The company later said some of the television equipment mounted on the car had interfered with its sensors.