Asleep at the wheel

Mobileye autonomous vehicle runs red light in Jerusalem

Incident occurs with TV crew in car; company says transmitters set up by reporters on roof interfered with sensors

A Mobileye self-driving car running a red light in Jerusalem in May 2018. (Screen capture: Channel 10)
A Mobileye self-driving car running a red light in Jerusalem in May 2018. (Screen capture: Channel 10)

A self-driving car developed by Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel Corp. last year for a whopping $15.3 billion, ran a red light during a test drive in Jerusalem last week while a TV crew was inside the car filming the incident.

The Israeli maker of self-driving car technologies seeks to market its first autonomous vehicle by 2021, but the traffic offense committed by its car could mean it still has obstacles to overcome until that vision is realized.

In a report aired last Thursday on Channel 10, the TV crew captured the vehicle failing to slow down for a red light and entering the intersection.

Mobileye said that transmitters put on the car’s roof by the TV team had interfered with sensor frequencies and caused the error.

נתנו לרכב האוטונומי של "מובילאיי" לנסוע – הוא עבר באדום

נתנו לרכב האוטונומי של "מובילאיי" לנסוע – הוא עבר באדום • לכתבה של טל שורר >>

Posted by ‎חדשות 13‎ on Thursday, May 17, 2018

Prof. Amnon Shashua, the co-founder and CEO of Mobileye, published an editorial on the Intel website last March following an incident in which an Uber self-driving car hit a woman in the US and killed her.

Shashua said that the tragic death of 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg should not be used as an excuse to “stifle” important work in the development of self-driving cars.

“I firmly believe the time to have a meaningful discussion on a safety validation framework for fully autonomous vehicles is now,” he wrote. “We invite automakers, technology companies in the field, regulators, and other interested parties to convene so we can solve these important issues together.”

Shashua said that society expects self-driving cars to be held “to a higher standard than human drivers.” However, sensors’ detection and classification of objects, and interpretation of the information, remains a challenging task, and no shortcuts can be taken in safety-critical areas, he said.

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.

Professor Amnon Shashua is senior vice president at Intel Corporation and the chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Mobileye, an Intel company. (Yonatan Hepner)

Earlier this month, Shashua said the company has started testing its self-driving cars on highways around Jerusalem in recent months. The cars drive completely autonomously and are driving every day, he said.

Mobileye last week signed a deal to supply its advanced systems for eight million cars produced by a European automaker, its largest deal yet.

In an email to The Times of Israel, a spokesman for Intel said that the deal was for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) with advanced capabilities. The eight million units will be supplied over the life of the contract, which is typically five years in the automaker sector.

As interest in self-driving cars rises, Intel and Mobileye face stiff competition from players including Uber, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz to get fully autonomous vehicles on the road by 2019.

Mobileye is working with automakers like General Motors — for its Super Cruise system — Nissan, Audi, BMW, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, and China’s Nio, to supply them with its Level 3 technologies by next year, Reuters reported last week.

There are some 27 million cars on the road from 25 automakers that use some sort of driver assistance system and Mobileye has a market share of more than 70 percent, the company told Reuters.

Shoshanna Solomon contributed to this report.

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