Mobileye teams up with French firms to develop self-driving shuttles by 2023

Fleets of autonomous 16-passenger vehicles for public transportation to roll out first in France, then rest of Europe, then beyond

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

An iCristal electric shuttle developed by Lohr Group that will start using Mobileye's self-driving tech (Courtesy)
An iCristal electric shuttle developed by Lohr Group that will start using Mobileye's self-driving tech (Courtesy)

Intel Corp’s Mobileye, a Jerusalem-based maker of self-driving technologies, has set up a strategic collaboration with two French-based firms to jointly develop and deploy commercial autonomous shuttles for public transportation services in Europe in 2023 and then globally.

The agreement is with France’s Transdev Autonomous Transport System (ATS), part of the Transdev Group, a private-sector public-transport operator, and the Lohr Group, a maker of car-transport and other vehicles. The companies will integrate Mobileye’s self-driving system into the i-Cristal electric shuttle, manufactured by Lohr Group, with plans to integrate it into public transportation services powered by fleets of self-driving shuttles across the globe, starting in Europe.

A pilot for the testing of the shuttles will start next year in France, the companies said in a statement on Thursday, with commercial services, the deployment of self-driving shuttles in public transportation networks, expected a year later in Europe.

“Our collaboration with Transdev ATS and Lohr Group serves to grow Mobileye’s global footprint as the autonomous vehicle (AV) technology partner of choice for pioneers in the transportation industry,” said Johann Jungwirth, vice president of Mobility-as-a-Service at Mobileye. “Mobileye, Transdev ATS and Lohr Group are shaping the future of shared autonomous mobility, and we look forward to bringing our self-driving solutions to regions all over the world.”

An iCristal electric shuttle developed by Lohr Group that will start using Mobileye’s self-driving tech (Courtesy)

The collaboration will enable the deployment of autonomous vehicles in public transportation networks at a large scale, using the combination of the complementary technologies and the industrial expertise of the three partners, said Patricia Villoslada, executive vice president of Transdev ATS. “Together we will bring new mobility solutions to reality in the next coming years.”

The goal is to provide clients access to autonomous shuttles that could be easily and efficiently implemented in cities, said Marie-José Navarre, vice president of Lohr Group. Autonomous public transportation can be woven into existing transportation networks to distribute services when and where needed, while optimizing fleets, lowering transportation costs and improving customer experiences, he added.

Through the collaboration, Mobileye and Transdev ATS will bring their technologies and expertise to the electric i-Cristal shuttle, manufactured by Lohr Group, which features space for up to 16 passengers and is fully accessible via a ramp. The shuttle can travel at speeds up to 50 kilometers per hour and is designed to safely and efficiently operate within today’s public transportation networks with Transdev ATS’ solutions, the statement said.

Mobileye’s self-driving system is based on two core technologies that includes software for the system’s decision-making process and a perception system, which uses cameras and radars and lidars to make the vehicle “see” its surroundings.

The self-driving system can also be deployed without geographical limitation thanks to Mobileye’s mapping technology for autonomous vehicles (AV), through which a proprietary, crowdsourced AV map of the global road network is created and then continuously and automatically updated using data gathered from mass-market advanced driver-assistance systems, the statement said.

Israel’s Mobileye was acquired in 2017 by Intel for $15.3 billion.

Transdev is jointly held by Caisse des Dépôts Group (66%) and the Rethmann Group (34%). In 2019, it had 85,000 employees in 18 countries, and its parent company, the Transdev Group, generated total revenues of 7.4 billion euros ($9 billion).

Lohr Group designs, builds and sells passenger and cargo transportation systems. Its global industrial presence includes six factories on three continents, 2,000 employees, and one R&D hub.

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