Mobileye CEO: Automation Can Save Lives Without Self-Driving Cars

Advanced driver assistance could nearly eliminate traffic fatalities even without robots replacing human drivers, the head of Intel’s Mobileye division said this week.

In a presentation at the International CES expo, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua focused on cars that could make human driving safer in the next few years rather than on fully autonomous vehicles. Coming one day after Intel rival Nvidia highlighted new “Level 2+” driver assistance technology at the same show, the speech reflected what may be a broader shift toward a less futuristic vision of vehicle automation with benefits closer at hand.

Vehicle automation has kicked off two revolutions, one in the nature of transportation and the other in safety, Shashua said. Fully driverless cars may transform mobility and land use, but that’s an expensive, long-term goal, he said.

“Saving lives is another revolution, and that can be implemented at the cost structure of driving assistance,” Shashua said.

Cars equipped with a few new features, such as 360-degree cameras and more advanced automatic braking capability, could eliminate virtually all collisions if they used the Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) framework developed by Mobileye, he said.

RSS is a set of verifiable mathematical formulas to keep a vehicle in a “safe state” where it can’t cause an accident, Mobileye says. Intel has made RSS available for use by other vendors, industry groups and standards bodies.

If all cars had these features and the systems made no errors in perception, crashes would effectively be eliminated, he said. “It gives us an achievable horizon,” Shashua said.

In the next few years, Mobileye plans to use its camera-based sensing platform and RSS framework to make advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) guide vehicles in ordinary situations, Shashua said. For example, automatic braking could gently nudge drivers away from potentially hazardous situations rather than just preventing imminent crashes through actions like automatic emergency braking, he said.

Mobileye’s AV development has always been built around cameras, while other vendors have focused more on radar or Lidar. The reason is twofold, Shashua said: To develop a camera-based system good enough to act as a redundant backup to a full complement of sensors, and to make advanced vision and decision-making possible with equipment that could keep cars affordable. The solutions that Mobileye envisions would add only a few hundred dollars to vehicle cost, Shashua said.

Mapping will also play a role in Mobileye’s ADAS vision, aiding vehicles in situations such as roads where lanes aren’t well marked, he said. Mobileye already supplies ADAS platforms in many shipping vehicles, and these can gather data to make maps more detailed and current. On Monday, Mobileye announced a partnership with Ordnance Survey, Britain’s national mapping agency, to supply data for new location information service.

RSS has made some inroads to the industry since it was introduced last year. On Tuesday, Mobileye announced that Chinese tech giant Baidu and European automotive supplier Valeo are working with RSS, and China’s ITS standards body will form a workgroup to develop an AV safety standard based on it.

Also on Tuesday, the company said it is exploring a strategic collaboration with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors in which the company would use Mobileye technology for ADAS platforms ranging up to Level 2+ automation.

Intel is also looking toward fully autonomous vehicles at CES. In a demonstration with Warner Bros., passengers in a retrofitted BMW X5 can experience immersive entertainment with big-screen video, haptic feedback and other elements. The concept is meant to explore future entertainment possibilities in autonomous vehicles.

Stephen Lawson is a freelance writer based in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @sdlawsonmedia.

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