Hailing New Transportation Tech


By Diane Hess

In 2019, self-driving cars will hit the road in Israel with the assistance of technology developed by Mobileye at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU).

At the Smart Mobility Summit in Tel Aviv in October, German car maker Volkswagen Group, Intel’s Israeli computer vision subsidiary Mobileye, and Champion Motors announced plans to set up a self-driving ride-hailing service in Israel next year.

The initiative is part of the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) alliance, a Belgium-based consortium that is focused on spreading on-demand transportation in Europe and beyond.  Through a project called “New Mobility in Israel,” Volkswagen will provide electric vehicles, outfitted by Mobileye with hardware and software systems that have driverless capability. And Champion Motors will run fleet logistics and manage a control center.

“We are delighted to embark on this joint venture,” said Dr. Shai Shalev-Shwartz, Mobileye’s Chief Technology Officer and a senior fellow at Intel, as well as a computer science and engineering professor at the Hebrew University. He continued, “we believe Israel is the right place to build a model for [this kind] of project.”

The Israeli government approved the endeavor and agreed to provide legal and regulatory support. Initially, the group will put a few dozen vehicles on the road, with the hope of having hundreds of self-driving cars in Israel by 2022.

“Self-driving electric vehicles will offer Israel and cities around the world safe, clean and emission-free mobility, which is accessible and convenient,” said Herberg Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, in a statement.

Professor Amnon Shashua conceived of and created Mobileye at the Hebrew University. Intel bought the software company for $15 billion in 2017. The latest initiative once again highlights Israel as a trailblazer in computer vision and artificial intelligence technology.