Intel is aiming to grow significant alternative revenues to its traditional semiconductor business, not least in autonomous driving. Here, Antony Savvas looks at two significant wins for the company in fleet.

If you want to get attention when it comes to technology deployments then what better way than getting the solution used in big red iconic London buses. Yes, I know, the famous open-ended Routemaster, where you could jump on and off went years ago, but everyone still recognises a London bus.

With so many of them travelling on the UK capital’s busy roads, anything to help them safely round their long routes is welcome. So, in steps Intel for a major trial of its safety technology Mobileye. The trial is supported by Transport for London (TfL) through a grant from its Bus Safety Innovation Fund.

Collisions

Bus company Abellio is conducting the trial. It operates 48 bus routes across London using more than 740 vehicles. For the trial, 66 buses on three of the company’s routes have been equipped with Mobileye collision avoidance technology – each having a camera unit installed on the inside of the windshield and a display placed in the driver’s cab. The final results of the trial should be available by the end of this year.

Gil Ayalon

Focused on reducing bus collisions with cyclists, motorcycles, pedestrians and other road users, the trial’s findings to date show the Mobileye technology has reduced avoidable collisions – those which are in the driver’s control to prevent – by 29%, and reduced injuries from such collisions that have taken place by 60%.

Mobileye, of course, is also being used by autonomous test vehicles on many less busy roads in the US, so putting it up against a busy road network in London is a real test. While this trial does not involve the autonomous driving seen in California, one wonders whether we’ll see bus drivers assisted by such technology in the future?

Safety automation

What they are already using on the London buses includes collision warnings and headway warnings if the distance between the bus and a vehicle ahead becomes unsafe. The system also monitors lane markings and warns drivers of unintentional lane deviation. In addition, it recognises and reads speed limit signs and warns drivers when they are exceeding them.

Gil Ayalon, director of EMEA at Mobileye, said: “Abellio takes safety very seriously, and they’ve been a superb partner, helping their drivers get the very best out of the system.”

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says an estimated 119,000 injury-causing crashes involving large trucks or buses occurred in 2016 in the US. And with 4,440 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes during that same year, the sooner the industry gets this type of technology through trials the better.

Into the Promised Land

In another potential seal of approval for its solution, Mobileye has joined forces with Volkswagen and its local distributor Champion Motors to deploy the first autonomous electric vehicle ride-hailing service in Israel.

The commercial mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) effort will see Mobileye provide a full turn-key hardware and software self-driving system validated for level-4, driverless capability. Champion Motors will be responsible for fleet logistics and infrastructure of the MaaS deployment.

Antony Savvas

The Israeli government has backed the project, with development beginning in early 2019 and roll-out in phases reaching full commercialisation in 2022. The New Mobility in Israel joint venture and the government support it will receive, will be extended to other players coming into the market with their own services, said the Israeli government.

Volkswagen, Mobileye and Champion Motors said they will use the venture as a “global beta site” for testing the MaaS model. In Israel, they will start with “several dozen” vehicles and scale to “hundreds” of self-driving electric vehicles, they said.

“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.

From London to Tel Aviv we will soon have some heavyweight blueprints as to how to roll out safe automated fleets.

The author is freelance technology writer, Antony Savvas.

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