Mobileye rolls out trial for on-demand, autonomous car rides in Paris

Employees of upscale department store will be able to request or schedule rides to work in self-driving ‘robotaxi’

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Startups and Business editor and reporter.

An autonomous vehicle powered by Mobileye's self-driving systems tec in Paris, December 2021. (Mobileye)
An autonomous vehicle powered by Mobileye's self-driving systems tec in Paris, December 2021. (Mobileye)

Jerusalem-based autonomous driving systems company Mobileye announced Thursday that it was rolling out a pilot scheme for autonomous, on-demand rides in Paris in collaboration with a French public transport company.

Mobileye, an Intel subsidiary, recently obtained an AV (autonomous vehicles) testing permit to drive its cars in Paris, adding the French capital to a growing list of cities where the company is piloting its self-driving technology. These cities include Detroit, New York City, Tokyo, and Jerusalem, as well as Tel Aviv and Munich, where Mobileye is set to launch autonomous taxis and ride-hailing services, or “robotaxis,” next year.

Riders will be able to access the service through Moovit, the Israeli smart transit data company Intel bought last year for some $900 million. Moovit developed the MoovitAV app for consumer ridesharing with Mobileye.

In the initial phase, employees of the Galeries Lafayette, an upscale French department store chain, will be able to access the service, requesting or scheduling a ride to work at the store on Haussmann Boulevard in Paris four days a week. The pilot is being launched in partnership with French transportation operator RATP Group.

The test vehicles will be able to carry two passengers at a time, in addition to a Mobileye safety driver and an RATP “co-pilot.”

“Autonomously driving the roads of Paris is yet another milestone on the way to realizing our vision of self-driving inclusive mobility. We are happy to have not only gained the testing permit, but also strong partners in Paris,” said Johann Jungwirth, vice president of mobility-as-a-service at Mobileye, in a statement Thursday.

An autonomous test vehicle, powered by Mobileye, in Paris. December 2021. (Mobileye)

Côme Berbain, director of Innovation for RATP Group, said, “This is an opportunity for the RATP Group to test a new use case, an autonomous car service for companies, but also to test the vehicle’s autonomous technology for possible integration on other transport modes such as a bus or minibus.”

The news Thursday came a week after Intel announced plans to take Mobileye public in 2022 at a valuation of approximately $50 billion. Intel bought Mobileye in 2017 for over $15 billion. The company had previously gone public in 2014 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Intel said the move to go public would “unlock the value of Mobileye for Intel shareholders by creating a separate publicly traded company and will build on Mobileye’s successful track record and serve its expanded market.”

Intel said it will remain the majority owner of Mobileye, and the two companies will continue working together as they “pursue the growth of computing in the automotive sector.” The Mobileye executive team will remain in place, with co-founder Amnon Shashua continuing as the company’s CEO.

The multinational said Mobileye expects to deliver over 40 percent more revenue in 2021 compared to last year, through a number of products and programs in place with more than 30 automakers worldwide and other partners.

Mobileye plays a key role in Intel’s global operations. Earlier this year, Intel said it was investing $400 million in a new R&D facility for Mobileye as it becomes the US giant’s hub for developing autonomous vehicle technologies. Once the campus is built, Mobileye’s workforce is expected to grow to about 4,000 people.

“Mobileye is a major growth business that’s deemed to be a key part of Intel’s future,” the company has said.

A Mobileye car doing a pilot drive in New York City; July 2021. (Courtesy)

Mobileye began testing autonomous vehicles in Munich last year, after obtaining an AV testing permit recommendation from the country’s independent technical service provider TÜV SÜD. It was the first city in Europe to approve the pilot, which built on Mobileye’s existing program in Israel where the company has been testing self-driving vehicles since 2018.

Separately, Mobileye has a number of running partnerships to supply self-driving systems to California delivery startup Udelv, which plans to have a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles on the roads within two years, and with two French-based firms to jointly develop and deploy commercial autonomous shuttles for public transportation services in Europe in 2023.

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